Saturday, July 17, 2004


           Corruption is an issue that has plagued Kenya from her infancy. It begun with a simple patron – client system that has metastasized into one of Kenya’s greatest economic stumbling blocks. Kenya experiences three types of corruption (Githongo 1): Petty corruption (day to day bribes), Grand corruption (kick backs for government officials) and Looting (wholesale theft of government resources). Petty is the most prevalent, followed by Grand and the least prevalent is looting (though it is the most widely reported on). Kenyans have consistently rated corruption as the most pressing issue in society. According to a 2001 poll done by the International Republican Institute, 21% of Kenyan’s said corruption was the most pressing issue, 22% considered poverty and 15% said unemployment (Githongo 1) Corruption is not a problem only in the government. It is worth noting that all of society does play it role in promoting corruption. Many Kenyan’s do not consider bribery a form of corruption will constantly partake in the practice, and according to Transparency International Kenya, the average urban Kenyan will pay 16 bribes a month (TI 6). The frequency of bribing would show a rather insidious deterioration of morals in society: "What the judges did (corruption) however unpalatable, is merely a symptom of a society that has allowed its moral center to rot. We would be deluding our selves if we thought that getting rid of a few of them (judges) would solve our problems. Cutting off a diseased limb, however necessary, does not always address the cancer within." (Bindura)
        So far the war against graft has been undermined by a lack of political will and the wrong motivating factors. Political will lacked in the previous regime (and in this one as well) due to the fact that members of the government had been adversely mentioned or suspected in corruption cases(it is worth noting that the current Minister of Education and former vice president, has been adversely mentioned in a number of corruption cases): "The political will is lacking and the combined efforts of the Kenya police, AG, Controller and Auditor generals and parliament cannot under our present legal and political arrangement stem the loss of public money" (Githongo, 2). Moreover, the motivating factors for the previous regime were not to improve government and stem the tide of corruption, they aim was to seem to be tough on corruption so as to gain foreign aid: "without the passage of the constitutional amendment to restore KACA (Kenya anti corruption Authority) the country will once again be denied more than Kshs. 2.5 billion in external funding." Former president Moi in 2001 (Githongo 11) I would argue that the need for aid alone will not be enough to form concrete laws that fight corruption, it leads to the formulation of laws that are insufficient or that can not stand the test of the law (as the case was for KACA).
           Due to the scourge of corruption, Kenya has for the last seven years, been consistently ranked as one of the most corrupt nations in the world (according to the corruption perception index published by Transparency International). This has served to poison Kenya’s relationship with its development partners and hampered foreign investment. Moreover, it has been a leading cause of poverty in Kenya. By diverting much needed development aid to private pockets, it has served to encourage the unfair distribution of income. According to figures released in August (2003) by the Minister for Planning, Kenya has been losing about $1 billion each year for the last decade, due to corruption: "Kenya’s growth has stagnated for years, with the economy expanding just 1.1% in 2002. Part of the reason was rampant corruption costing as much as Kshs 68 billion ($932 billion) a year – nearly a quarter of annual government spending." (BBC NEWS)

        The government has done well so far in the fight against corruption. The appointment of John Githongo (TI Kenya director) to head a department of governance and ethics is very positive. Moreover, the passage of the public servants ethics bill, economics crimes bill and commissions to investigate past corruption, have been steps in the right direction. However, more still needs to be done. To begin with there are problems with the ethics bill: (and if it had not been rushed through parliament in order to fulfill IMF conditions, the problems may have been identified) The provision that bars members of parliament (MPs) from organizing and officiating in public fundraisers is wholly unnecessary and would probably not pass the constitutionality test. In addition, the fact that the wealth declaration forms are to remain secret is rather counterproductive. The aim of the laws is to make government more accountable and transparent, having this documents remain secret flies straight in the face of the spirit of the laws. The government should amend the laws to ensure that MPs can take part in fundraisers and also make wealth declaration forms public.
        The government should also guard against complacency, now that the IMF and World Bank have resumed aid. The government should move on forward with the aim of rooting out corruption in the public sector. I find it worth pointing out that the previous regime had come to power promising zero tolerance on corruption, but faltered: "A great change had occurred (after Moi took over in 1978) implied orators of the time. Gone were the days when a citizen must ‘cook tea’ (pay a bribe) in return for routine government services." (Haugerud 1) The president must also guard against graft creeping into his administration (and if reports are correct graft is making a come back): " The reemergence of graft in the new government, which came to power on an anti-corruption platform, is seen as threatening the stability of the country and scaring of potential investors." (Onyango 1). The government should also embark on a radical review of the public sector. Their needs to be a total overhaul over the civil service, in order to make it more professional and responsive to the needs of the populace.
        In addition to reforming the civil service, the government needs to embark on a PR campaign to change the culture of corruption in society. With the same vigor that the government has put into fighting the AIDS pandemic, they should embark on fighting the corruption cancer in Kenyan society.

UN relevance.


         Over the last 2 years, the U.N has been the subject of great debate in America. The relevance of the U.N has come into question and many have called for the disavowal of the organization, or doomed it to the fate of its predecessor the League of Nations. One of the greatest proponents of withdrawal is former U.S congressman Joe Scaborough. In 1995 Scaborough introduced the "U.N withdrawal act of 1995" to the United States congress. If this bill had been enacted into law, the U.S would have withdrawn from the U.N by the year 2000. According to a summary of the bill, the rationale for withdrawing was: " The United Nations no longer serves the national interests [of the U.S], has become a bureaucratic nightmare consuming $4 billion to not positive end" (American society of international law 2). In a 2003 broadcast of his T.V show MSNBC Reports (Now Scaborough country), Scaborough, identified a number of other issues that make him and others believe that the U.N is an irrelevant organization. Principal among them was the debate on what to do with Iraq, in light of its failure to disarm. He pointed out that 17 resolutions had been passed in 12 years, but Saddam Hussein still had weapons of mass destruction. He also pointed out the fact that the head of the U.N human rights committee was none other than Libya, a country with one of the worst human rights records; moreover, that thousands had died in Rwanda and Bosnia due to U.N inaction. In addition, he argued that the U.N has become a mere debating society that is weak kneed, refuses to enforce its resolutions, panders to the despots of this world, is anti-American and a colossal waste of American taxpayers money. And now the OIL FOR FOOD SCANDAL.These are views that have become quite prevalent in the last couple of months and the fervor they are gaining is quite disturbing.
        Is the U.N a relevant organization? Well according to David Scheffer, senior vice president of the United Nations Association of the U.S.A, it is. In October 2002, he gave a talk titled: "The relevance of the U.N and International law" in his presentation he included the following narration: "Imagine standing in a small hospital in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in February 1999 and scattered before you are scores of mutilated children. One young girl, no more than 10, is burned only on the front side of her body, from her face to her toes, because rebels had thrown her into the fire of her burning home. Another teenage girl lies still, her eyes having been incinerated with acid following a gang rape by rebels." (UNAUSA 2).
This is a scene in your typical war zone, may it be Bosnia, Somalia, Sierra Leone, or Liberia. This is what goes on in a war torn country. Untold suffering and pain. The U.N has and will continue to be the most relevant and important international organization in the world. As long as people are in need of assistance, the U.N will live on. Through its various organs the U.N has assisted many people in dire straits; from UNICEF dealing with malnourished children; UNAIDS working to ease the suffering of an AIDS victim, or the UNDP working with a third world country to alleviate poverty and the WFP working to feed Afghans. In its 50 plus years of existence it has done more good than harm and I believe it will continue to do so. These organizations have helped billions of people improve their lives and have a modicum of the life that most Americans would take for granted
        The principle aim of the organization is to foster international peace, this is mainly achieved through debate and open discussion amongst the member states - something that is meant to mimic democracy. So far various conflicts have been averted through this system; an example would be the Cuban missile crisis (it is worth noting that no world war has occurred since its inception). In addition, the U.N has been the purveyor of most international law and has been the principle organ for the legitimization of international law. The laws that deal with interstate relationships, have their roots in this organization and I believe will continue to grow through this organization. One only need to look at such treaties as the nuclear test ban treaty, the Chemical weapons convention, the Biological weapons convention and the universal declaration on human rights. These may not be perfect treaties and not all nations have abided by them, but where would this world be without them? If the U.N were to become irrelevant and abandoned, what would happen to its various organs? What would happen to all the treaties signed under the aegis of the U.N? What will replace the U.N? and what will happen to the various U.N programs currently in progress?
          Does the U.N need reform? In all probability it does. The U.N needs more power in order to deal with emergencies such as Rwanda, Bosnia and now Darfur (issues that
it currently cannot deal with due to questions about sovereignty); more power to enforce resolutions - no country should be allowed to flout any U.N resolution.  And reduced power for the 5 permanent members of the Security Council - issues at the U.N have boiled done to conflict between the permanent 5 far too often.
         Will the above happen, probably not, but should the U.N be abandoned, certainly not. The U.N has weathered many storms and this current debate is but another test to the resilience of its member states to uphold the values that the U.N has been built upon. The debate is lessabout the U.N and more about the member states. As a Constructicist would say:
The U.N is what states make of it.

Works Cited
ASIL. "U.N Withdrawal Act." American Society of International Law Sept 1996: 1

Scheffer, David "The Relevance of the U.N and International Law." United
Nations Association of the U.S.A convention. Dallas. 25th – 26th October

Thursday, July 08, 2004



The idea of a 21-day transition from Election Day to inauguration day is a welcome one indeed. A transition period would allow the president-elect, his team and the country ample time to celebrate their victory, recover from the rigors of the campaign and begin preparations for the hard work that lies ahead. The president-elect could use this time to create his government, from creating a cabinet, to filling staff positions. This period would also allow him to develop a working relationship within his government, iron out any problems that may exist and begin the process of turning campaign promises into workable government policy. It would also be the perfect time for him to get to develop a rapport with the other arms of government, the bureaucracy, diplomatic corps and the press. All these steps would ensure that once the government is inaugurated the focus is immediately on policy and not who will get what position in government.
The president-elect could also use the transition period to acquaint himself with the citizens as their new president. He could also use the time to articulate his policy objectives and his vision for Kenya over the coming years. The elections can have a polarizing effect on society and the president-elect striking a conciliatory tone and a get back to work attitude would spar the country to leave electioneering behind and focus on the vision the president has for the country. The period would also allow for a well-orchestrated handover ceremony to be arranged (and not the chaotic scenes of the last inauguration). Moreover, it would allow the out going president enough time to tie any loose ends and move vacate power in an orderly and dignified manner.
It would be worth noting that the U.S has a 70-day plus transition and the most effective presidents have used this time to ensure that they hit the ground running. Ronald Reagan is a good example; his orderly and precise transition is often cited as the model for other presidents to follow. He began by dividing up his team into those involved with turning promises to policy and others involved with the physical transition into the white house. He spent most of his time getting to know Washington and the power brokers in the city, especially legislators. His transition is often credited for his successes in the first two years of his presidency. Clinton on the other hand, is a poster child for how not to do things. He had no formal transition plan and left everything to fall in place. He ended up spending most of his first year dealing with controversies that could have been avoided and little time dedicated to actual policy.
A political transition would allow Kenyan’s to come to terms with a new political reality and I believe the idea should be embraced and entrenched into our new constitution.