Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

When Did Uhuru Know About NYS Scandal? What Did He Do?

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The fascinating roadshow that is the NYS scandal is unfolding in ways that no one could have imagined. Not the perpetrators who made off with billions, laughing, at the time, all the way to the bank. Not the “political analysts” whose expensive advice is “talk less, listen more; bark less, bite more.” Not the “whistle-blowers” who started off saying that no money was lost, then directly released a police report implicating junior staff and now drags in others making for a toxic mix. And certainly not the “investigators” whose sneaky, insulting and ludicrous attempts at rehabilitation suggest that the cover-up…
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Lessons on the Independence of Institutions from South Africa

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South Africa provided some welcome news on the anti-impunity front last week. After years of dithering President Jacob Zuma finally admitted in court that the Public Protector’s report on the Nkandla scandal was binding and there had been abuse of office in the renovations of his country estate. The Nkandla scandal involves the use of public funds in upgrading Zuma’s rural home for “security” purposes. More than US $20 million (about Sh2 billion) was used for the upgrade that included an Olympic size swimming pool, a cattle kraal, a helipad, chicken run, amphitheatre, private military hospital and a visitor’s centre.…
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This Sneer at Donor Funding is Myopic and Reeks of Hypocrisy

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The choice “insult” against pro-democracy activists during the dark days of the Moi regime was that they were foreign funded. The implication was that they — and all Kenyans who wanted change — were too stupid to think for themselves and needed foreigners to think for them. The corollary of that was that Kenyans were happy to allow corruption, massacres, tribalism and dictatorship to thrive. This thinking implied that the idea of accountability, democracy, freedom from torture, freedom of expression, association and assembly, and the right not to be summarily executed were unviable foreign concepts. These insults were entirely driven…
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Something Must be Amiss When Process Triumphs Over Substance

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I will be surprised if Nation publishes this column. For it is a critique on how the country’s largest and most important media group has handled the situation between itself and Denis Galava, the former editor who was summarily dismissed recently. Mr Galava wrote the now famous and sharply critical editorial on January 2 on Mr Uhuru Kenyatta’s performance since taking power in 2013. It was an unexpected editorial from the Nation Media Group (NMG) which has been treading an extremely fine line since 2013, preferring to let a few independent columnists do the heavy, direct critiques of Mr Kenyatta.…
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Eurobond Saga Gives Us Reason to Doubt Official Explanations

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The news, analysis and reactions to the Eurobond issue in the mainstream and social media have been fascinating, and saddening. Predictably, most responses fell neatly into the pigeon holes that our tribal and political divides have created. Those from the Mt Kenya and parts of Rift Valley regions were clear in defending the regime, repeatedly stating that no money was lost, and excusing the clear breaches of the Constitution and laws. On the other hand, the rest have been certain that billions have been stolen even though they cannot quite explain how this has happened given the complexities and intricacies…
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Alarm Bells Sounded on IEBC in Elections and Human Rights Congress

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The Carter Center in Atlanta, USA, recently hosted an interesting discussion on the nexus between elections and human rights. Upfront, there seems to be a divergence between the global North and the global South on matters election. In the South, elections have always been an integral part of the human rights discourse with human rights and democracy groups taking the lead on monitoring, observation and trying to infuse a human rights framework and approach to the management of elections. Internationally, however, elections are in — in practice — removed from traditional human rights work. This meeting was part of series…
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