Maina Kiai's Column

Maina Kiai's Column

Europe Insincere on the Question of Refugees from Africa and Asia

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One of the great tragedies of our time is the hundreds of people drowning and dying as they attempt to cross the Mediterranean Sea from Libya to Europe. It is estimated that more than 1,800 people have died attempting to cross the Mediterranean in the first six months of 2015. And we have all seen the desperate images of weak, battered and emaciated people left adrift in the sea. Worse, the European press and authorities insist on labelling those attempting to cross as migrants, rather than refugees. The vast majority of the people come from Syria, Yemen, Eritrea, Afghanistan and…
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Jubilee Determination to Silence All Dissent Will Be Counter-Productive

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In an interlocutory judgment, the High Court sitting in Mombasa recently ruled that the police and the minister of Interior should immediately remove the NGOs, Muslims for Human Rights (Muhuri) and Haki Africa, from the list of suspected supporters of terrorism until the matters were fully adjudicated. The authorities argued strenuously against the move, but they lost the argument for a simple reason: There is simply no evidence to implicate the two NGOs. The authorities had a chance to present evidence of the reasons that led them to putting the NGOs on the list, but beyond saying that they have…
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Patriotism is Challenging Our Leaders and Pride in Hard-Earned Acheivements

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Some months ago, I flew from Sao Paulo to London on British Airways. The first snack on the plane was nuts produced by the Kenya Nut Company! Wow! A Kenyan company with a global contract with British Airways! And a few weeks before that, the packaging of the soap in the Geneva hotel where I stayed stated it was made from Fair Trade Avocado Oil from Kenya. I took a picture of it! I doubt that Kenyan authorities assisted in promoting these Kenyan products globally, but I felt an enormous sense of pride as a Kenyan and for Kenya. I…
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War Against Corruption Does Not Give Uhuru Licence to Ignore Constitution

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Uhuru Kenyatta is getting lots of mileage from his “fight against corruption”. He mentions eradicating corruption frequently, has ordered some key officials to step aside and has formed various task forces to see how to deal with corruption effectively. It is a popular move, and the entire country hopes he succeeds. The cheerleading is led by some once reviled Western donors, who are begging to open their taxpayers’ wallets to support this “political will” in fighting corruption. Heck, even the “Singhs” within the regime are now touting their commitment to anti-corruption, as are the architects of Anglo-Leasing and Goldenberg. Don’t…
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Why Muhuri and Haki Africa are Undergoing Crippling Harassment

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This week a State House operative finally revealed why the regime has been so fixated on trying to close down Muhuri and Haki Africa, two key civil society organisations operating from Mombasa. The two organisations are being taken through the grinder of State harassment and discrimination for the work they do, in ways reminiscent of the one-party State era. First they were placed, in unclear circumstances and without a hearing, on the list of “supporters of terrorism.” The police promised to get back to them in two weeks, but a month on, there has been nothing but silence, reflecting the…
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We Need Political Courage at the Top in the Fight Against Corruption

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President Uhuru Kenyatta is right to decry the massive cost of hiring buses to transport passengers from planes to the arrival terminal. Each bus costs us — yes us taxpayers — Sh2 million per month. That is about Sh67,000 per day per bus. Renting a saloon car costs about Sh3,000 per day, while a 4WD fuel and spares guzzler is about Sh10,000 per day. Let’s be generous and put the cost (plus reasonable profit) per bus at Sh20,000 per day. This translates to Sh47,000 per day as “extra profit.” There are five buses, so this works out to Sh235,000 per…
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