Democracy and Development

Brenda Wambui
21 August ,2018

The simplest definition of democracy is one given by Abraham Lincoln, a former president of the USA: democracy is government of the people, by the people and for the people. It is all about the people.

It sounds better than other forms of government, such as monarchy, in which a single family rules from generation to generation. The power is vested in one person, the monarch. Or oligarchy, in which all power resides with a few people or in a dominant class or group within the society. Or authoritarianism, where the people do not participate, and have no say in what happens. When you add powerfoam, you get totalitarianism, where power and authority are concentrated in one person, such that he/she controls government and, therefore, the people. Dictators tend to be authoritarian or totalitarian.

However, democracy does have its weaknesses. It is not easy to represent more than one person and reach consensus. Aristotle asked two simple questions when classifying states. Question one: who rules? How many people exercise supreme power? Question two: in whose interest? Self-interest or that of the community? So he classifies states into six: where one person rules for the benefit of the community, it is a monarchy. Where a few rule for the benefit of the community, it is aristocracy. Where many rule for the benefit of the community, it is polity.

On the other hand, when one person rules for his or her own benefit, we get tyranny. Where a few rule for their own benefit, we have an oligarchy. Where many people rule for their own benefit, we have democracy. We can see that Aristotle believes that democracy is perverse in a way. Democracy is selfish in his view, while polity is selfless. Whether we will ever attain polity is a question that may boggle the mind for years to come.

Why is democracy the form of government most associated with development? Is it because democracy is inherently and instrumentally good? Because it facilitates free human choice and it furthers political participation? Because it enables people to live freely and autonomously? Democracy provides institutional guarantees that the policies and laws created by a government will have a reasonable fit with the fundamental interests of the people. How? Because the people vote for the people in government.

The debate about the relationship between development and democracy is long and unending. Martin Lipset noted a positive correlation between wealth and democracy. But correlation does not mean causation. Does democracy lead to development? If one thinks about development through purely economic terms, then any form of government we’ve discussed before should lead to some level of development.

Even a dictatorship can witness growth in the productivity of labor, agriculture, and capital, leading to growth in per capita incomes and per capita assets, and ultimately GDP. Take for example China, which is not a dictatorship, but is more of an oligarchy according to some, and an aristocracy according to others. There was a general assumption when they opened up their economy that this economic liberalization would lead to political liberalization which would eventually lead to democracy.

The theory? That economic growth leads to a larger middle class that is more empowered. This middle class then begins to demand control over its destiny, and eventually even repressive governments are forced to become democratic. But here we are over 35 years later: China is not a democracy but still continues to develop economically. Authoritarian regimes around the world continue to prove that you can have economic development without relaxing political control.

Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winning economist, however, classifies development as freedom. This moves past economic indicators and looks at the wellbeing of the human. It includes human rights and freedoms, political rights, access to social opportunities through education and employment and so on, transparency guarantees, social security, protective security and so on. If we look at development as freedom, then democracy does lead to development.

According to Joseph Stiglitz, development is understood as a ‘transformation of society’ that goes beyond economic growth alone to include social dimensions like literacy, distribution of income, life expectancy and so on. These aspects are known as human development. To add on to human development, we must also have redistribution of wealth, otherwise poor people are doomed to remain poor, in which case what is the point?

In Kenya, the top 10 percent richest households in Kenya control more than 40 percent of the country’s income, while the poorest 10 percent control less than one percent. We have inequality when it comes to access to resources. Houses in urban areas are five times as likely to have piped water as those in rural areas. Only 1% of those who enroll in primary school go on to complete university. 80% of our unemployed are aged under 35, so much for access to opportunities. The list of worrisome statistics goes on and on.

It would be great if we moved away from the narrative prevalent in Kenya that development equals roads, the Standard Gauge Railway, a port, an additional runway at JKIA. The view that economic development is the only kind of development is narrow and not beneficial. It has been shown that low income democracies outperform autocracies over time when it comes to development indicators. So when we witness our government trying to shrink our democratic space, we should be concerned because in the long run this does not bode well for us.

The impact of democracy on development is many times indirect, but can be felt through policy certainty, political stability, the establishment and enforcement of rules that protect property rights, the promotion of education, the ability to promote private capital, and the reduction of inequality. These are the sorts of things Kenya says it wants to do to attract investment, not because it has living, breathing people here who need these things to live comfortably as well.

We have to remember that the reason we concern ourselves with building systems and institutions is to maximize social good and utility. We have a social contract with our state, in which we give up unfettered freedom for security. This is the foundation of our state. We should not forget, however, that we have to be at the center of this contract for it to work. Economic development means little in the long run if it is not accompanied by human development, and systems that are purportedly built to serve human beings that do not center these human beings are doomed to fail.

Extrajudicial Killings

Brenda Wambui
31 July ,2018

On 7th July 2018, the Social Justice Centres Working Group, which consists groups from Mathare, Dandora, Kayole, Mukuru, Kibra, Kamukunji and Githurai, held the Saba Saba March for Our Lives. The demand? An end to extrajudicial killings, investigations into the ones that have occurred, and most importantly, justice for those killed.

According to the Who is Next? report by the Mathare Social Justice Centre, between 2013 and 2015, 803 people were killed in Mathare by the police – 308 in 2013, 418 in 2014, and 77 in 2015. The average age of those killed was 20.  They were mostly men of mixed ethnicities; they were intercepted by the police and shot at close range, or in the back; the killings are usually premeditated, and the police officers who carry out these killings are identified and well known in the community, and are involved in multiple extrajudicial killings; weapons tend to be planted on the bodies of the executed after they are killed to justify the killings, and people are routinely intimidated such that they fear acting as witnesses to these killings.

Many Kenyans tend to support these killings, saying that these young men belong to gangs that make Nairobi unsafe and unlivable, and that putting them in jail is difficult; catching them in the first place is difficult. That if one lives by the bullet, they should expect to die by the bullet. That the people against such killings are only against them because they haven’t been victims of these gangs. Or, that they are benefiting from the spoils of these gangs and have incentive to support them.

These killings are extrajudicial for a reason – they are illegal. According to Article 26 of our constitution, every person has a right to life, and a person should not be deprived of the right to life intentionally, except to the extent authorized by the constitution and any other written law. In the case of the police, specifically, the National Police Service Act (2011) provides that firearms may only be used when less extreme measures are inadequate, and for the following purposes: 1- saving or protecting the life of the officer or other persons, and 2- self-defense or in defense of other persons against imminent threat of life or serious injury.

This is usually not the case. The Independent Medico-Legal Unit (IMLU) reported that in 2017, 152 people were killed by the police, and that out of those 152, 74 were summary executions, 38 people were killed to protect life, and 40 were killed in unclear circumstances. 106 deaths occurred in Nairobi County, and 95% of those killed were young men. Many of these killings occur in low income areas, and this is due to the criminalization of poverty. Many innocent people are killed by the police simply because they happen to live in a slum where gangs also live.

It is claimed that these young men belong to criminal gangs which, according to one report, fundraise via social media to pay police bribes. Which goes to suggest a couple of things. One, that they are known to the police, possibly quite well. Two, that for as long as they pay their dues and don’t kill any police, they are safe. If these criminals are known, why haven’t the police apprehended them? It is worth remembering that in December 2016, then cabinet secretary for Interior Affairs, the late Joseph Nkaissery, outlawed 90 criminal groups, such as Gaza, 42 Brothers, Eminants of Mungiki, Vietnam, American Marines, Chapa Ilale, and the Super Power Gang.

Their being outlawed means that by law, they risk a fine not exceeding KES 5 million, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 15 years, or both. However, if a victim dies, they are liable for life imprisonment. We have a process for dealing with these gangs, so why won’t we enforce it? Most times, it is because of loopholes in law enforcement, of which the police and the judiciary are a part. Then there’s the matter of evidence collection and witness protection, both of which are shambolic in Kenya. If we are to successfully put members of criminal gangs behind bars, evidence must be properly collected; it must not be contaminated, and the process of acquiring it must not have gone against the law. Otherwise the case will likely be thrown out of court.

There’s also the matter of testifying against these gangs. Anyone who was at the scene of a crime needs to be assured that they will be safe if they testify, and that they won’t suffer retaliation from the rest of the gang towards them or their loved ones. At the moment, this is not the case. There’s also the matter of judicial bribery. Members of criminal gangs may just buy their way out of jail.

We must fix these problems as opposed to making extrajudicial killings acceptable. What we have now is a cycle of violence begotten by a cycle of poverty, and a cycle of injustice begotten by inequality. We have bad systems and a lack of political will, all of which are nuanced; all of which will take time and commitment to fix. The solution is not extrajudicial killings. When we make such crime acceptable, it becomes the norm. How can we defend law breaking by the people supposed to enforce the law? It shows that we have no respect for our constitution. In which case, on what basis do we criticize our leaders for their grand theft? For their corruption? If we base our arguments on the law, then we must unequivocally support the law.

Are Kenyans Over-represented?

Brenda Wambui
17 July ,2018

Before we passed the 2010 constitution, we voted for the president, and members of parliament for our respective constituencies. After 2010, a Kenyan voter now has to elect the president and their deputy (on one ticket), the governor and the senator for their county, the woman representative for their county, the Member of Parliament for their constituency, and the ward representative (also known as the MCA) who sits in the county assembly. The first time this took place was in the March 2013 general election.

Kenyans who voted elected six representatives per person (if we consider the president and deputy as one representative – the presidency). If we had felt under-represented before, this was no longer the case. We have one president (who comes attached to a deputy president), 47 governors (and their 47 deputies), 67 senators (47 elected by counties, 16 nominated by their parties, 2 members representing the youth, and 2 representing persons with disabilities), 349 members of the national assembly (290 constituency representatives, 47 woman representatives, and 12 nominated members of parliament). We also have 2,526 MCAs. That’s 2,990 members (if you count all the deputies, it becomes 3,038). We have 43 million Kenyans. That’s one representative per 14,000+ Kenyans.

This over-representation shows in our public wage bill. In 2014, our public wage bill was 8% of GDP, which in that year was USD 61.4 billion. This increase in our number of representatives reflects in the jump in the wage bill, which was KES 249 billion in 2010, and KES 418 billion in 2014. Much of this jump was caused by the introduction of county governments. The average annual growth rate was 14% between 2010 and 2014, yet the average annual growth rate of GDP was only 5%. Where are we magically getting this money?

Debt.

This is why public borrowing is out of control in Kenya. In 2015, our public debt was USD 32.54 billion, which was 52.8% of our GDP. In 2016, our public debt was USD 38.9 billion, which was 54%. In November 2017, our public debt reached USD 45.8 billion, which was 57% of our GDP. In 2018/19, our debt to GDP ratio is projected to rise to 59%. Each Kenyan owes KES 100,000 worth of national debt to external parties. We borrow to survive. We don’t make enough to live on.

In the year ending June 2015, we spent KES 11.2 billion on Senate and the National Assembly, up from KES 9.2 billion in the year ending June 2014. Each year, as shown here, they have increased their pay. In April 2013, the Speakers (the highest paid Members of Parliament) earned a monthly salary of KES 990,000. In April 2017, they earned KES 1,320,000. Regular members of parliament increased their monthly from KES 532,500 in April 2013 to KES 710,000 in April 2017.

On average, Kenyans spend 55 million shillings per Member of Parliament (both senate and national assembly). This is about 2% of our national budget. For comparison, the global average is 0.57% (this is for countries with a population between 10 and 50 million, which is what we are). That is almost 4 times more. Why do we spend so much? South Korea’s GDP per capita (this is GDP per person per annum) is USD 27,538.81. Japan’s is USD 38,894.47. The USA’s is USD 57,466.79. Ours is USD 1,455.36. Yet, per 1 million people Kenya has 9.18 representatives, while South Korea has 5.9, Japan has 0.4, and the USA has 1.7. Nigeria has 2.6 representatives per million people, Ethiopia has 7.1, India has 0.6, Venezuela has 5.3.

The first resort for most is to suggest the scrapping of quota seats for women, youth, persons with disabilities and other minorities. In many discussions, women representatives are said to be unnecessary, yet this is untrue. The purpose of woman representatives is to increase the representation of women in parliament, in line with the two thirds gender law which requires that no one gender have more than two thirds of elective seats. We still have not met this requirement. Only 19% of the national assembly seats, 27% of senate seats and 6% of county assembly seats are held by women.

Yet, even with these numbers, women representatives have spoken actively about the budget, education, health, security, agriculture, women, youth, water, land and so on. They have sponsored major bills, such as The Victim Protection Bill (Millie Odhiambo), The Access to Information Bill (Priscilla Nyokabi), The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act (also by Priscilla Nyokabi) The Kenya Aids Control Authority Act (Rachel Nyamai), The Food Security Bill (Beatrice Elachi), The Reproductive Healthcare Bill (Judith Sijeny), among others.

This translates to 8% of the National Assembly Bills and 18% of the Senate Bills in the last parliament. Quite good for a contingent that only made up 21% of the 2013 parliament. The answer is definitely not to reduce the number of minority representatives in parliament. Having more of these minorities represented can only serve to enrich our society. A discussion on minority representation should not only focus on women representatives, but on all minority representatives, and it is crucial moving forward, especially since we already didn’t meet the August 2016 deadline to have a framework in place to ensure the enactment of the two thirds majority rule.

The solution is clearly not to scrap these positions. It is to have a ratio of legislators to general population that makes sense. In the words of James Madison, “However small the Republic may be, the Representatives must be raised to a certain number, in order to guard against the cabals of a few; and however large it may be, they must be divided to certain number, in order to guard against the confusion of a multitude.” Deciding on an optimal formula is tricky. A parliament with too few representatives won’t be democratic enough, and can lead to an unstable political system. It can also lead to political violence.

Too many representatives lead us to where Kenya is now. There are many social costs, as well as financial costs. They interfere too much with how our markets operate (see our real estate market), increase bureaucracy, and they create many opportunities for rent-seeking activities and corruption. It is important to ensure that the general population is reflected in parliament, but this comes with many direct and indirect costs.

According to our Auditor General, Edward Ouko, we need 290 MPs (both senators and members of the national assembly), not the 416 we have now. That is a 30.28% reduction of MPs. In turn, we would save KES 6.93 billion a year. To show the effect of this under current situations, let’s assume this money would be used to pay for free day-school secondary education for children. Currently, each child has an allocation of KES 12,870 (up from KES 10,625), so the KES 6.93 billion would educate 538,461 secondary school going children each year. Assuming it was used for free primary education, it would also make a huge difference.

In 2014, the government increased FPE allocation per child to KES 1,420 (from KES 1,020) to cater for enrollment of about 10 million children in over 23,000 public primary schools. Annually this costs KES 14 billion. KES 6.93 billion would educate 4,880,281 children each year. Here, we are assuming that we are only reducing the number of MPs. What if we reduce them and reduce their salaries? Each of them currently takes home over KES 1.1 million in salaries and allowances monthly. If we reduced it to what he proposes, which is KES 931,000 per month, we would save even more!

When it comes to MCAs, 1625 are elected and the rest, 1901, are nominated representing the minorities we discussed. We can further reduce the number of wards to reduce the wage bill. Perhaps we can change the smallest unit of governance in the county from the ward to the initial divisions we had back when we had 72 districts. At their most, they were once 262 divisions. Even when we include nominations, the number of county representatives would not be more than 500 given the current ratios. That way, we would come down from 2,526 to 500 county representatives, and from 416 to 290 MPs.

Of course, to do so would require a referendum, but it is necessary. Our government is bloated.

The Problem With Lifestyle Audits

Brenda Wambui
26 June ,2018

Uhuru Kenyatta recently announced that all government officials and their families would undergo a lifestyle audit as part of his war on corruption, starting in July 2018. This would include him and his deputy, William Ruto. Those found guilty of corruption would be sent to jail regardless of their status, and he would not intervene, he said. Days later, his partner in handshake matters and People’s President Raila Odinga said that he and his ODM Party would no longer serve as whistleblowers, but instead they would partner with Kenyatta in the war on corruption. He too would undergo the lifestyle audit.

Lifestyle audits are tests that tend to be used by forensic auditors to determine whether a person’s lifestyle matches up with their known income stream(s). Because corruption, fraud and money laundering tend to leave little to no paper trail, they are difficult to detect, and many times only a sudden, inexplicable shift in lifestyle can signal to them. For example, Sports Cabinet Secretary Rashid Achesa believes that Raila Odinga needs to explain how he built a KES 1 billion home in Kisumu while he was Prime Minister, when his monthly salary was KES 1.2 million and his mortgage was KES 40 million. Allies of William Ruto have come out to claim that this audit targets him, and politicians such as Kimpchumba Murkomen have claimed the exercise will expose politicians as “poor”, and no one likes a poor politician.

Indicators of lifestyle tend to be public: the houses, cars, companies and properties one owns, one’s entertainment preferences, the schools one’s children attend, the size of one’s bank accounts and the transactions through these accounts, among others. However, even then, this cannot be taken as conclusive evidence of fraud, corruption or money laundering – it is merely an indicator, and sometimes the person being audited can explain it.

During the police vetting exercise, for example, one police officer said he was worth KES 20 million because he relied on loans. Another said he was wealthy because he was paid to escort a Hindu god around town for religious processions, while others credited their hardworking wives. It is also not unheard of for people to claim having inherited large sums of money. It is worth noting that this exercise has yet to be completed, and that no police officer has been prosecuted yet as a result of a lifestyle incongruous with their income (although some have been sacked). And yet, this does not ensure justice to the people of Kenya, and it goes against our constitution.

Chapter Six of the Constitution of Kenya (2010) speaks about leadership and integrity. The guiding principles of leadership and integrity include selection on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability, or election in free and fair elections; objectivity and impartiality in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices; selfless service based solely on the public interest (demonstrated by: honesty in the execution of public duties; the declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties); accountability to the public for decisions and actions; and discipline and commitment in service to the people.

State officers are expected to behave whether in public and official life, in private life, or in association with other persons, in a manner that avoids any conflict between personal interests and public or official duties; compromising any public or official interest in favour of a personal interest; or demeaning the office the officer holds. A person who contravenes this shall be subject to the applicable disciplinary procedure for the relevant office; and may, in accordance with the disciplinary procedure referred to in paragraph (a), be dismissed or otherwise removed from office. A person who has been dismissed or otherwise removed from office for a contravention of the provisions specified is disqualified from holding any other State office. It further states that a State officer shall not maintain a bank account outside Kenya except in accordance with an Act of Parliament; or seek or accept a personal loan or benefit in circumstances that compromise the integrity of the State officer.

In addition to the constitution, we have the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, Public Officers Ethics Act, Income Tax Act, Leadership and Integrity Act, and Proceeds of Crimes and Money Laundering Act, among others acts of parliament that dictate the conduct of public officers and other citizens, and define financial impropriety and its legal outcomes.

Given that these are the dictates of our constitution, and that there are other laws that have been passed to enforce these dictates, it is a wonder that the police officers sacked after the lifestyle audit/vetting exercise have not been taken to court, and it serves as an indicator of the outcomes of Uhuru Kenyatta’s vetting exercise. Some people who are implicated in this process may argue that they are being victimized, and that their constitutional right to own property is being contravened.

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), the body that would be tasked with investigating those found to be inexplicably living beyond their means, itself worked hard to stop its staff from being vetted. How can it be relied upon to investigate these public servants and take them to court? Vetting of the staff at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) also stalled after junior staff threatened to expose the dealings of senior staff. Before the 2017 General Election, over 100 people running for office were found to have failed the standards of leadership and integrity. They were not barred from running. There is simply no political will to carry through with these exercises, and one wonders why that would suddenly change.

For as long as we rely on such gimmickry instead of enforcing a culture of servant leadership and integrity in public service as envisioned in our constitution, we will continue to find ourselves here, because the proceeds of corruption far outweigh the costs in Kenya.

Towards a Democratic Internet

Brenda Wambui
22 May ,2018

The web (and the rest of the internet) has become a space where citizens come to chat, share ideas, critique the government and explore ways in which Kenya can function better for its citizens. It is a space where one is sure to find the most robust discussions about what it means to be a Kenyan citizen. As the importance of this space has increased, it has also become a place to spread misinformation and disinformation, propagate harmful speech, silence dissent and promote violence. As such, it is important to fight for its openness – which allows us to freely express ourselves, debate our ideas – and uphold our democracy.

The Democratic Principles for an Open Internet serve as an important guide in our efforts to protect this space.

Freedom of expression is a key pillar of any democracy. Kenyans should be able to seek, receive, and impart information freely on the internet without censorship or interference. It is undemocratic to block websites such as Twitter and Facebook, and services like WhatsApp as many Kenyans feared would happen during the 2017 general election, or to throttle internet speeds, which likely did happen. The intended effect of such actions is to suppress free speech, and it is often accompanied by arbitrary content takedowns, paid political posting and in some cases, online violence intended to instill fear.

Freedom of assembly and association is also important – everyone has the right to associate freely through and on the internet for social, political, cultural and other purposes. Kenyan citizens should be able to meet up and organize (especially politically) online to further their goals. This means that the LGBTQI community, feminists, sex positivity and body positivity advocates, human rights defenders and activists among others should be able to use the internet to peacefully organize, exercise their democratic rights and advocate for those of others. It is undemocratic to threaten WhatsApp group administrators with arrest for content posted on their groups due to the potential for misuse of such power.

Accessibility of the internet is key – everyone has an equal right to access and use a secure and open internet. All Kenyans should have equal opportunity for access and participation online, and public stakeholders (such as the government) and private stakeholders (such as Safaricom, Facebook, Google and so on) should identify and address the inequalities that exist, particularly among women and other minorities. We must work to make internet access more affordable, and to increase infrastructure and coverage across the country, especially in rural communities.

Privacy and data protection online are paramount – we all have a right to privacy online. This means freedom from surveillance, the right to use encryption, and the right to be anonymous online. We also have the right to data protection, which includes control over our personal data (and its disclosure, collection, retention, processing and disposal). It is undemocratic for Kenyans’ communications to be surveilled by intelligence agencies. We need to fight for a data protection law and an authority to provide oversight, both of which we do not currently have. Kenyans also need to be educated on the importance of protecting the data, while the government needs to be accountable for all the data it collects and issues (for example, birth certificates, ID  and passport numbers, NHIF and NSSF IDs, KRA PINs, drivers’ license numbers and so on). How does the state keep this data safe? Who has access to this data? Do Kenyans consent for their data to be used for the purposes for which the state uses it? We need answers to these questions.

We also need to have personal safety and security online. It is undemocratic for the web to be a space used to threaten others with physical, sexual and psychological violence/harassment. The police, and the state at large, should take it seriously when people, especially women, report stalking, trolling, blackmail, revenge porn, and hate campaigns. Online violence is still violence, and online harassment is still harassment.

The internet must be inclusive – cultural and linguistic diversity must be promoted, and technical and policy innovation should be encouraged to facilitate plurality of expression. It is important, for example, that our government publishes information online in English and Kiswahili (which it rarely does), as many Kenyans do not speak English. Official state websites should also be accessible to persons with disabilities, such as vision and hearing impaired people. The online space in Kenya must also be structured in a way as to encourage the voices of women and other marginalized people so as to increase its inclusivity.

Network equality must also be assured – we should all have universal and open access to the content online, free from discriminatory prioritization, filtering or traffic control on commercial, political or other grounds. It is the basis of net neutrality – the idea that internet service providers should treat all content flowing through their towers and cables equally, without ensuring faster access to some sites and slower access to others. This is why net neutrality must be protected, and why Facebook’s Free Basics is dangerous. It is also why internet throttling during elections, for example, is undemocratic.

Standards are necessary to make sure these principles work – the internet’s architecture, communication systems, and document and data formats should be based on open standards that ensure complete interoperability, inclusion and equal opportunity for all.

Lastly, there has to be governance – all these principles mean nothing if they are not implemented atop the legal and normative foundations of human rights and social justice, which should be at the heart of how the internet operates and is governed. Multiple diverse stakeholders across sectors should be involved in internet governance, such as the government, civil society groups, private sector stakeholders, academia and the media should be brought to the table in a transparent and multilateral way, based on the principles of openness, inclusive participation and accountability.

This way, we can ensure that the internet in Kenya remains open, accessible and democratic.

The Kenyan Middle Class

Brenda Wambui
8 May ,2018

The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) recently announced that it would begin licensing cooking gas firms to operate piped gas systems in residential areas. This would mostly make business sense in gated communities and flats, where Kenya’s middle class tends to reside. This led me to think about our middle class.

The middle class is the class between the upper and lower classes, said to live by their wits rather than by their labour, which was easy to distinguish during the industrial revolution when the term came about. The people who did manual labour at factories were the working class. Those who did clerical work were the middle class, and those who owned these factories were the upper class, better known as the rich. As we have progressed, the markers of a middle class lifestyle have changed, and they vary across countries and cultures.

As we have moved to a knowledge based economy, where the focus has shifted to services, one’s role at work is not the only indicator of class. Today, a person working a low wage or low salary job may not have to perform manual labour, but that does not make them middle class. So we see other markers begin to arise. Chief of which is earnings. Or income. This income then dictates where you live, what you eat, what you wear, the places you go, what car you drive, if at all you do. Then it becomes apparent that there can’t just be one monolithic middle class. We have the upper middle class, for whom richness, or being a part of the upper class, is just around the corner. Then we have the lower middle class, many of whom are a disaster or two away from being working class. Perhaps there is a middle middle class?

According to the African Development Bank, Africa’s middle class is defined as such: Individuals or households that fall between the 20th and 80th percentile of the consumption distribution or between 0.75 and 1.25 times median per capita income, respectively. Or, Individuals who have a daily spend of between USD 2 – USD 20 per day (that is, between KES 200 – KES 2,000 at the current rate). That is 313 million people, or 34.3 per cent of the continent’s population. According to them, 44.9 percent of Kenya’s population is middle class.

On the other hand, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) says that a Kenyan middle class person spends between KES 23,670 and KES 199,999 each month. This seems more reasonable than a claim that 44.9% of Kenya’s population is middle class. According to KNBS, as at 2015, only 68,676, or 2.89 per cent, of formal sector employees in Kenya earn more than KES 100,000 per month. 64.5% earn between KES 20,000 and KES 40,000. The Institute of Economic Affairs found that there are about 272,569 middle class wage employees in Kenya, with another 74,337 wage employees taking home more than the middle class. On the other hand, 2.13 million employees take home less than KES 49,000. It’s fair to say that Kenya has a small middle class.

What is the function of the middle class in a country? In a growth economy like Kenya’s, much emphasis gets paced on the middle class. A growing middle class is a sign of a robust economy. It shows that upward mobility is possible in a country, and this upward mobility is an antidote to income inequality. Which is why “middle class” is such a catchphrase in Kenya. It is there, but it should be larger.

A lot of blame gets placed at the feet of the middle class, such as “the middle class doesn’t vote, they just tweet” or “the middle class finances its lifestyle through loans, it is fake.” There is no shortage of hot takes deriding the middle class. In Kenya, they are powerful and powerless at the same time, and instead of looking at how to expand the middle class from a systemic perspective, we instead place blame on this middle class for its stagnation, as if there is much it can do about this. To expand the middle class, we have to boost the productivity of our economy and encourage investment.

What boosts the productivity of an economy, and makes investors invest? There are multiple theories, but they can all be condensed into five factors (as described by Heather Boushey and Adam Hersch). One: The level of human capital and whether talent is encouraged to boost the economy’s productivity. Two: Cost of and access to financial capital, which allow firms and entrepreneurs to make real investments that create technological progress to use in the economy. Three: strong and stable demand, which creates the market for goods and services and allows investors to plan for the future. Four: The quality of political and economic institutions, including the quality of corporate governance as well as political institutions and a legal structure that enforces contracts. Five: Investment in public goods, education, health, and infrastructure, which lays the foundation for private-sector investment.

The middle class is important in each of these five factors. First, human capital. A strong middle class promotes the development of human capital through a well-educated population. Second, the cost of and access to financial capital becomes lower and more, respectively, in countries with a larger middle class because of reduced risk. Third, a strong middle class creates a stable source for demand because they have enough disposable income to spend on what matters to them.

Fourth, a strong middle class supports political and economic institutions, and has the power to rally behind them since gift politics that may appeal to the working class have no incentive for them, while the rich are the ones buying and influencing these institutions. Lastly, a strong middle class creates and fosters the next generation of entrepreneurs, since they have an adequate social and financial safety net to enable them to start businesses. It is clear that this group is very important to our economy, so it should worry us that it is so small yet we continue to claim that we are a growing economy.

Much of this growth is contributed to by the increasing wealth of the rich at the expense of the middle and working classes, hence the income inequality in this country. We have a Gini coefficient of 0.445 (for perspective, 0 represents complete equality and 1 complete inequality).

Yes, more of us should aspire to go to university, work in formal employment so that we can pay income tax. More of us should not have to take personal loans to get by, or to buy home basics. More of us should not have to buy second hand Japanese cars because public transport in Kenya is a sham. More of us should not have to take our children to private schools because public schools are in shambles. More of us should be able to own houses without selling our souls for a mortgage.

Yet here we are. Whose fault is it that we do not have access to affordable financial capital? Whose fault is it that so many businesses fail in Kenya? Whose fault is it that human capital, better known as talent, is underdeveloped and not as skilled as we need to be to become a developed country? Whose fault is it that we have runaway inflation, especially of food? Whose fault is it that people cannot afford basic goods? That our political and economic institutions are held hostage by an elite few? That we do not invest enough in public goods, education, health, and infrastructure? Definitely not the middle class.

Bridging The Gap

Brenda Wambui
24 April ,2018

Human beings struggle with confirmation bias – we easily accept information that confirms our already existent beliefs while rejecting that which does not. This is why no amount of throwing facts at someone who you think or know is wrong will change their minds. They just tend to reject the information you gave them, give you their opinion, and become even more firmly rooted in their views. Appealing to rationality or logic works very few times, and requires people to be open minded. So we have to find another way. A way that works.

Researchers at Cornell University looked into this, and established some things: First, numbers are important. The more people that reinforce a point of view, the likelier they are to change a person’s mind. A good example is the doctor’s strike in Kenya that ran until early 2017. Initially, many were against it, but after it garnered widespread support and many people began endorsing it on mainstream and social media, it was difficult to come across people who still opposed it, except of course those who were partial to the government.

Timing is also key. The arguments the person encounters first are the likeliest to stick for your position, so arguments should be fine-tuned as they are taken as a blanket representation of a position. It is also important to use calm language. Which is hard, especially when arguing for things one is passionate about, but it is important to observe this. Being able to explain one’s position from different points of view also helps, as opposed to hammering the same point over and over again.

Daryl Davis, a musician who has actually convinced KKK leaders to change their minds and leave the Klan, echoes these findings. His efforts have been fruitful, as the KKK has been unable to re-establish a presence in his home state of Maryland, USA. He urges us to give our opponents a platform to express their views honestly without fear of attack, even when we do not respect what they are saying.

Then, we must counter their stance with knowledge. One should be able to argue the opponent’s position and why they think that way as well as the opponent can, or even better. Know their position as well as you know yours. This prepares you for what they will say, and probably how they will act. This helps with the calm language and attitude suggested by the researchers at Cornell University.

Second, he says you need to focus on having a conversation, not a debate. What’s the difference? A conversation is more focused on listening. A debate is something to win. There is a winner and a loser, and nobody wants to lose. In a conversation, the fact that one is open to hearing the other side means that they will probably reciprocate and be open to hearing one’s side. As he says, “when you are actively learning about someone else, you are passively teaching them about yourself.”

He recommends that we look for similarities. As we focus more and more on what we have in common, what we don’t have in common matters less and less. He also reinforces the importance of dialogue. When two opposing sides are talking, they are not fighting – they are talking. It is when the talking stops that violence has a chance to take root, so it’s important to keep talking. The more we keep conversation going, the more we find common ground.

All this requires patience. Patience to sit or stand there and hear things you don’t believe in and know aren’t true. To have the conversation without being condescending. Patience to keep going through this process because people’s minds rarely change instantly upon hearing a good argument.

Davis says that we must not explain people’s movements for them – we must let them explain, and then address the points in their explanation. Take note of them as they explain – let them finish, and then address these points. This only works if you have done the work, so do the work. He emphasizes something important. Most times, people are just afraid of the other. Of what’s different. Or who’s different. Which is why we must practice empathy. According to The School of Life, the key to empathizing with the other person is to understand that they’re actually the ones in pain. The only reason they are hurting us is because somewhere deep inside they are hurting themselves. They are not well.

How do we practice empathy? First, be curious. Actually want to know the other person’s point of view, their struggles. Be curious about why they think that way. Be curious about your own point of view. This curiosity is what will inspire you to seek knowledge on both sides. Second, listen, not with the intention to reply, but with the intention to genuinely understand. Ask follow up questions where you need more information. Practice stepping in their shoes and taking their view point. Then, go further and see how you would be talked out of that viewpoint.

Hopefully, if enough of us in our respective societies do this, we may be able to see a change, and live in a society where love, inclusion and acceptance thrive, as opposed to hatred, division and intolerance.

Kenya’s Perpetual Drought

Brenda Wambui
10 April ,2018

We suffer from a range of disasters as a country: flooding, fire tragedies, terrorism, corruption, diseases and epidemics, and drought – these reduce our quality of life, destroy our infrastructure, disrupt our economy, and cause a diversion of resources intended for other things. They also ensure that we remain underdeveloped.

Our country is particularly drought prone. Only 20% of our country receives high and regular rainfall. The other 80% is classified as Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL), where annual rainfall is low, so drought is a regular thing. Currently, four counties (Isiolo, Garissa, Kajiado and Tana River) are classified in the alarm phase according to the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) in February 2018. Ten counties have moved into the alert drought phase up from six in December, with most counties reporting a worsening trend. Only four out of the 23 ASAL counties (which make up a majority of Kenya’s land mass) recorded a stable trend.

The Kenya Red Cross also said that about 3.4 million people concentrated in 10 ASAL counties are facing food insecurity, and possibly famine, as a result of prolonged drought and failed rainfall. As a result, they are seeking KES 1.044 billion to fund their 2018 drought response and recovery program which is projected to reach 1,373,294 people.

In many ASAL areas, the October-November-December 2017 seasonal rainfall started late, had poor temporal and spatial distribution, was below average in total amount and stopped earlier than usual. This has affected the major harvest that was expected as a result of these rains in February 2018. In almost all counties, the vegetation situation was worse in January than it was in December. This may mean that most people, including subsistence farmers, will be relying on markets for their food. This scarcity and high demand will lead to much higher food prices.

Considering that the drought hits pastoral areas the hardest, their livestock will be malnourished, given the unavailability of water and forage. They won’t be able to fetch their usual prices. This means that pastoralists, too, will need food aid. It also means higher meat prices, because much of the livestock will die, as we have already began to see.

Drought is a weather condition. An extended period of dryness. We cannot prevent it, though we can predict it and prepare. There are three kinds of drought. Meteorological drought, which is when rainfall falls below a certain level that would lead scientists to consider it a drought. This could be seasonal. There is hydrological drought, which is often caused by meteorological drought. This is when water body levels fall below a certain amount. Finally, there is agricultural drought, which is when there is a significant reduction in crop yield, such that it may fall to a certain level considered to be a drought. This is also usually caused by the first two types of droughts. Kenya experiences all three types.

Famine on the other hand, is an economic condition. It is man made, because it is caused by a failure to plan. A failure to manage food supplies. For famine to occur, there has to be unavailability of food. Which does not necessarily need to happen when a drought occurs, because it is not like drought comes out of nowhere. It is not a surprise. Famine leads to hunger and starvation. A drought need not lead to famine, but in Kenya, it always does. We have a long history of famine and drought.

In 1997, we had a drought that affected the lives of 2 million people. In 2000, Kenya had its worst drought in 37 years. It affected 4 million people, who all needed food aid. In 2004, the long rains (normally expected between March and June) failed, leaving 2.3 million people in the need of aid. In 2005, famine was declared a national catastrophe, affecting 2.5 million people in Northern Kenya. In 2010 and 2011, we had our worst drought in 60 years. Across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, 13.3 million people were affected. In 2014, we had a drought that affected 1.6 million people. In 2015, approximately 1.1 million people needed food aid because of rainfall shortages.

In 2017, over 2.7 million people were in need of food aid according to the NDMA. This number represents around 20% of the population in pastoral areas, and 18% in marginal agricultural areas. Maize yields fell by 50%, beans by 40 to 50%, and sorghum by 30% as compared to 2015. Some places experienced as much as a 70% drop in crop yields, and livestock was selling for as much as 25% less than 2015 prices. Because the February 2018 estimate is that more people will need food aid (at least 700,000 more people), we can project that the situation may be even worse this year.

Drought is one of the reasons we are unable to achieve the sustainable development goals – such as the ones related to attainment of food security, poverty eradication, and promotion of environmental sustainability. It makes no sense that we continue to rely on rainfall in our agricultural sector, knowing that our country is mostly arid and semi-arid. Whenever our rains fail, we have drought, followed by famine, which causes hunger and starvation. This continues to happen yet agriculture is a key driver for our social and economic development. This continues to happen even when we have an early warning system, and a drought management authority.

This is baffling. Most water for human consumption and other uses is derived from rivers whose recharge depends on rainfall. Our grid is also largely powered by hydroelectricity, so drought also leads to power shortages. In the year 2000, Kenya Power lost USD 20 million, and the national GDP contracted by 0.3%, because of drought. Drought also accelerates the process of desertification and biodiversity loss. People lose their jobs when industries shut down as resources get depleted, children drop out of school because their parents can’t afford to pay their fees because of the economic impact of drought, as well as the suspension of school feeding programmes when there is a famine.

The funds the Red Cross is seeking will go to nutrition, cash transfers, food vouchers, rehabilitation of watering points and animal slaughter. Which is odd, because this is the sort of thing a country with a government should be able to do for itself. While we cannot let people starve, if we continue to fundraise from our already overtaxed pockets to cover things we already pay taxes for, aren’t we encouraging our government to continue with its corruption?

Drought is an all-round disaster, and it is sad that we continue to take it lightly. Or government, and not the Red Cross, should be able to have enough food relief for affected people with special food formulas for the most affected, such as children, the elderly and mothers. They should have in place resources for human disease control and treatment, as well as animal feed and supplements. They should have enough water reserves for both humans and livestock, and allocate cash for all this because drought is not a surprise. They should plan for livestock disease control, shelter for these animals, debt relief for their owners, destocking, restocking, distribution of seed, the list is long.

We also need to have the government championing practices that will help the average Kenyan in such times. For example, promotion of water harvesting and storage (which is illegal in Nairobi), training water user associations, planning for new water sources, deepening wells, removing silt from water pans, and planning future interventions. They also need to promote animal production and drought resistant crops, improve extension services, and develop our cereal banks. They need to ensure we have enough pasture & water for livestock, building up, strengthen networks between herders, develop livestock markets, conserve and protect pasture.

They also need to establish a common approach to disease control for livestock, vaccinate, deworm, and maintain cattle dips. The crops they promote should be drought resistant, early maturing crops and indigenous plants that require little water. They also need to promote agro-forestry for fruits, fuel, fodder and medicine, and have proper pest and disease control in place. This is their responsibility.

They may claim that many things “begin with us” as citizens, but famine definitely begins with them.

Why Kenyans Should Worry Even More About Facebook

Brenda Wambui
27 March ,2018

Facebook has recently found itself in hot water after a whistle-blower came out to talk about how Cambridge Analytica, a firm associated with both Uhuru Kenyatta’s and Donald Trump’s elections, mined the data of about 50 million users of the platform and used it to target them with often divisive political messaging. This is far greater than the initial estimate made in 2017 of 30 million accounts. This cannot be considered a breach of data, as they did it using the tools that Facebook gives third party developers access to, but a breach of users’ trust on Facebook’s part. They did not even bother to tell their users about this breach until March 2018 when the whistle-blower came out.

Hot on the heels of this information, it was recently revealed that Facebook, now known for being irresponsible with user data, has been storing extremely detailed logs of the date, time, duration and recipient of Android users’ calls when they have Messenger or Facebook Lite installed on their devices. It is worth noting that most Kenyans with smartphones are on Android. However, our concerns about Facebook should be even greater.

I recall clearly when Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook, came on an “Africa tour” in 2016 and stopped by Nairobi to “learn about mobile money.” Before that, he had been to Lagos to meet with local businesses and developers to understand how Facebook “better support tech development and entrepreneurship across Africa. While he tried to portray his visit as altruistic, it was anything but.

Zuckerberg’s Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has invested in Andela to the tune of USD 24 million, and, Facebook’s Free Basics Initiative (under their Internet.org arm) is active in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Angola, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, among others. Free Basics is a platform provided by Facebook in association with various telecom operators in different countries (in Kenya it’s Airtel), where certain basic websites are available free of cost. They hope that “by introducing people to the benefits of the internet through these websites, we hope to bring more people online and help improve their lives.”

According to their website, it provides people with access to useful services on their mobile phones in markets where internet access may be less affordable. The websites are available for free without data charges, and include content on things like news, employment, health, education and local information. They go on to say: “the internet is essential to growing the knowledge we have and sharing it with each other. And for many of us, it’s a huge part of our everyday lives. But most of the world does not have access to the internet. Internet.org is a Facebook-led initiative with the goal of bringing internet access and the benefits of connectivity to the two-thirds of the world that doesn‘t have them.”

Free Basics, however, is not all roses. It only allows users to access a very small section of the internet, and that portion is under the control of a corporation that chooses what services will be accessible for free. Since when can corporations be trusted with so much power? It offers unequal and biased access to the internet. The people at Facebook have to think your website is a “useful” basic, using standards that are unknown to the rest of us, and then allow free access to it on certain carriers. The selectiveness of the whole thing is amazing. Facebook partners with select Internet service providers to provide selective access to select websites. And then, they call it Free Basics, yet the very implication of the word basics is access to all.

This goes against the principle of net neutrality, which is the belief that Internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Through this service, Facebook becomes a gatekeeper: all web traffic generated on Internet.org goes through their servers, which spells trouble because it creates room for surveillance and privacy violations, since so much data is being concentrated in such few services.

Spying governments and hackers are now able to target very specific websites to get your data. This is made even worse by the fact that Facebook does not allow encryption on Internet.org (because the websites need to be light and load fast), yet this is one good way to protect users from online attacks. This is every hacker’s dream. To make matters worse, people worldwide confuse Facebook with the internet, while many others do not know that Facebook itself is on the internet. Isn’t it problematic if they become the main gatekeeper for the majority?

Free Basics also lacks transparency. What are the policies regarding user data? What happens when governments request for data access? What are the partnership terms with the telcos they are partnering with? How are core services for the service selected? What about the ones that are rejected? Why are they rejected? Who exactly covers the costs incurred by the telcos for providing this service? Are they being paid more or less than what they usually get paid by consumers for data? And most importantly, why is Facebook creating a walled garden? What about companies that are unable to, for some reason, meet whatever vague requirements Facebook has for being on the platform? Are they dead on arrival?

Perhaps the plan is for Facebook to increase its dominance in the market, get customers hooked on this free stuff, price others out of the market, and do whatever it damn well pleases after that. But how well is this plan working? Not too well. Buzzfeed did a piece on who is actually using Free Basics, and as you can imagine, the results will shock you. Most of the mobile operators in question that responded to their questions, and not Facebook, were actually the ones subsidizing the data because they believe it is a good customer acquisition and retention strategy. However, most of the people using Free Basics were not first time internet users. Many of them already have data plans and just use Free Basics to reduce their costs.

If Facebook really cared about providing access to the underserved, why not use its massive influence to urge telcos to offer data plans with low data caps to marginalized communities? Or, why not pay for this themselves? Then, everyone can have equal access to the internet? This fight has now been brought to Africa’s doorstep. Facebook lost this fight in India, and we must not let them win here. If a country with over 1.2 billion people can resist this giant corporation with a unified voice, so can African countries.

In India, they had a rallying cry against Free Basics: that it was poor internet for poor people. This is essentially what it is. They marched on the streets, protested online, and they targeted companies that had agreed to partner with Facebook, rating them poorly, until one by one, they dropped out of the programme. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India put out a letter to Facebook that ended with important questions, and the way Facebook handled this was terrible, and resulted in Internet.org being banned in India. They went on with a ham fisted approach, taking out billboards, newspaper ads, and sending millions of SMSs. They even asked people to call their telcos, which was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Zuckerberg learned from this very public humiliation, and this no doubt was behind his charm offensive in Africa. We have to be smart about this; we too must say no. We are at an important crossroads. The next billion can go online like we do now, and enjoy unfettered, nondiscriminatory access to the internet, with all the knowledge hosted there and the tools available for them to express freely. Or, they can get a second class experience. Poor internet for poor people, with limited access to the web as dictated by big blue.

It’s up to us to choose.

Let Them Play Golf

Brenda Wambui
6 March ,2018

While handing the flag to the Kenyan national boys and girls golf team, which was heading to Casablanca for the All Africa Junior Golf Championship, Uhuru Kenyatta said he wanted golf introduced in public schools as a way of developing the sport. He urged the ministries of Sports and Heritage, Education and Interior to finalize the development of a curriculum that will see golf introduced to public schools.

I could not believe it – our very own Marie Antoinette with a 21st Century “let them eat cake” moment.

Golf is an expensive sport to play. Golf clubs are expensive. The proper clothing and shoes are expensive. The set up and maintenance of golf courses is expensive. Everything about golf worldwide sets it up to be exclusionary. Golf club membership is expensive. Learning how to play takes time and money. Golf is thought of as a businessman’s game because chit chat about “business” is what tends to happen on the course.

Contrast that with the state of public schools. The Kenyan government under Mwai Kibaki introduced free primary education in January 2003 in order to make primary education accessible to all children irrespective of their economic backgrounds. However, this endeavor has been fraught with challenges. The unavailability of physical facilities, school furniture, equipment, teachers, and other resources has led to overcrowding in classes and overburdening of teachers. This has a negative effect on the quality of education, and further deepens inequality between those who attend private and public schools.

The Kenyan government under Uhuru Kenyatta introduced free secondary education in January 2018. This was one of the pledges the Jubilee party made while campaigning for re-election. Schools selected for this program, such as Kenya High School, Lenana School, Buruburu Girls High School, Dagoretti High School among others began accepting day students as part of this effort to increase secondary enrollment (the goal is a 100% transition from primary to secondary school), and delink admission from bed space in order to increase form one enrolment. Students are not required to pay tuition fees – they only buy uniform, pay for lunch (and those boarding pay boarding fees ranging between KES 40,000 and KES 53,000). However, just as with free primary education, there aren’t enough teachers, classrooms and materials at secondary school level. This will lead to a poor standard of education.

Arguably the most important aspect of a school, other than its infrastructure, is its teachers. Kenya currently has a pupil to teacher ratio of 57:1 (according to UNESCO, this should be no more than 40:1). Primary schools have a shortage of 40,972 teachers, while secondary schools have a shortage of 63,849. We need 104,821 more teachers if we are to meet our education goals as a country. This is expensive. To begin with, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) asked the Treasury for KES 16 billion to recruit 68,000 intern teachers as a temporary measure to address this shortage created by government policy. They also asked for KES 5 billion to recruit 12,000 teachers to address the current shortage and an additional KES 3.6 billion to hire another 5,476 to cater for the 100 per cent pupil transition from primary to secondary schools. These budget items have yet to be approved.

Perhaps the starkest indicator that the president is getting ahead of himself is the implementation of the new curriculum, which was supposed to be rolled out in January 2018. The 2-6-3-3-3 curriculum involves children spending two years in pre-primary and six years in primary school. In lower primary, they will learn Kiswahili, English, Literacy, and “Mother Tongue”, Science, Social Studies and Agricultural Activities. In upper primary, they will learn Kiswahili, English, Mathematics, Home Science, Agriculture, Science and Technology, Creative Arts, Moral and Life Skills, Physical and Health Education, and Social Studies, with an option of a foreign language (French, German, Chinese and Arabic).

Junior secondary will take three years, and students will study Mathematics, Kiswahili, English, Life Skills, Health Education, Social Studies, Integrated Science, Business Studies, Religious Education, Agriculture, Sports and Physical Education. They will also select one or two subjects that suit their career choices, personalities, abilities and interests. Senior secondary will also take three years, and students will focus on either Arts and Sports Science; Social Sciences; or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). After this, students can either go on to three years in university, or three years in a vocational training centre.

As is to be expected, the rollout of free secondary education at the same time as a resource intensive new curriculum, while requiring 100% transition from primary to secondary school without investing in school infrastructure and the hiring and training of teachers, has caused a mess. The teachers have not been trained adequately on the new curriculum, and TSC’s budget for doing so has been affected severely by budget cuts of up to 75%. Teacher training had been estimated to cost KES 900 million, while training and monitoring implementation of teacher performance appraisal in all public institutions was estimated to cost KES 200 million. However, their budget for this was reduced by KES 423 million of the operation and maintenance budget, limiting service delivery.

Schools have yet to receive teaching materials for this curriculum, leaving teachers confused. Since the government is distributing text books directly to schools, they have no option but to wait. Why? Because the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) relies on four printing firms to publish curriculum designs, and their printing materials are exhausted after the bulk printing of new curriculum materials. The paper used to print these materials is imported, and has taken long to arrive. So the children and their teachers can either wait, or revert to using 8-4-4 materials.

Even as all this happens, Uhuru Kenyatta, perhaps as a catalyst of some kind of Kenyan revolution, thinks it is important for golf to be introduced in public schools. The tragedy that is Kenya continues.