H.E Kofi Annan, the former UN Secretary General has set very low standards for Kenyans. Statement by the Partnership for Change on the Kofi Annan Visit to Kenya issued at Nairobi Thursday 8, October 2009
We watched in disbelief yesterday as former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan briefed Kenyans on the outcome of his three day visit to Kenya.
Kofi Annan came for three days and scheduled meeting after meeting with the key players of his negotiated agreement to discuss the progress of the National Accord implementation programme. He did not however meet the Kenyan public who are the raison d’être of his negotiated Agreement.
He did not meet with any of the Victims of the Post Election Violence
He did not visit any IDP Camp
He did not meet with any of the Voters from Shinyalu and Bomachoge, the only Kenyans who currently have voters cards, to ask them what kind of elections were conducted by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission on August 27th 2009.
He did not visit any Police cell or prison
He did not leave the Serena Hotel except to visit Kibaki, Odinga, Moi and Marende.
Instead he met the heads of the Institutions that have been created by the Grand Coalition Government; self selected ‘stakeholders’ and his own secretariat. More or les the same people he met in Geneva six months ago when he started talking about the window of opportunity for the National Accord reforms closing. In March 2009 in Geneva Kofi Annan had the following to say
“It is not too late for Kenya’s political leadership to lead. Statesmanlike determination to work together to support, if not initiate, actions to implement the recommendations of the Waki and Kriegler Commissions and some of the ideas emerging from this consultation could have a dramatic, positive effect. But at a time when there is a growing skepticism about the behaviour and motives of the ruling elite, the window of opportunity is closing. Time is running out. There is a need to move beyond criticisms and playing blame games. Every element of Kenyan society has a role to play in taking the country forward and Kenyans should take individual responsibility to contribute to this process. You can be sure that the Panel remains ready to assist in every way and I have no doubt that the international community will continue to support you.”
So 6 months later, and without any reference to the Implementation Matrix of July 30th 2008, Kofi Annan’s Verdict after 17 months of the existence of the Grand Coalition Government is: there has been progress. It’s up to the Kenyan Public to put pressure on their Government and Donors should pick up the tab.
Agenda 4 reforms can be found in the Implementation Matrix of the Long term issues. Here the Government has demonstrated that the Grand Coalition Government is unable, and incapable of dealing with Agenda 4. The Agenda 4 issues require resources for which the Government has made no provisions for. The truth is that there will be no Agenda 4 reforms as there is no money for it. A government that fails at the very minimum to plan cannot be given the responsibility of implementing reforms. We need as Kenyans to be candid and accept our fate. We restate our position that the Grand Coalition Government has reached its sell by date.
Kofi Annan did not bother to restate the timelines of the implementation matrix of the National Accord – the mandate rules of the Grand Coalition Government that gave Kenyans a bench mark to measure the success of the Grand Coalition Government in implementing the reforms.
In telling Kenyans to push their Government Kofi Annan failed to tell Kenyans how they were to go about this since there is no democratic space to even don t-shirts in protest. Letters are issued by the Police barring citizens from freedom of protest and expression.
Kofi also asked donors to pay for the folly of the Grand Coalition Government without asking the same Government to provide resources for the Implementation of reforms. As he was making this request the Grand Coalition Government was issuing cheques for hundreds of brand new cars and the IDP’s were sleeping in the cold.
Reports by the BBC that Kenyans were rearming were dismissed by Kofi Annan as rumours and mere criminality – rather than clear evidence of impunity requiring immediate action; rather than the harbinger of crimes against humanity being planned in the Rift Valley.
Apart from that, why did Kofi Annan disappoint?
Kofi Annan set very low standards for Kenyans. Just because Kenya is a not a first world country, does not mean that we do not understand Democracy and the Rule of Law. It does not mean that we want standards lower than the rest of the World. We want to be clear his reform window of opportunity analogy has worn thin, and is now meaningless.
We wish to point out three weaknesses with the way the reform process is going on in Kenya today and then point out 5 practical things that should be pursued to change the direction and pace of reform in order to attract;
During the KNDAR mediation, the National Civil Society Congress proposed to the Kofi Annan Mediation Panel and the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee that the best solution to the post election crisis was a transitional government for only two years but this was turned into a five year transitional period. This effectively removed the pressure points and incentives for the political class to undertake the reforms stated in the final National Accord Agenda. In fact the political class in Kenya thinks that Kenyans lost their right to elect a clean, lean, effective, accountable and responsive government (CLEAR government). Kenyans have overwhelmingly called for a fresh election because nearly 74% of Kenyans according to an April 2009 Steadman Opinion Poll, do not approve of the performance of this coalition government.
Kofi Annan understands that by accepting the role of mediator he effectively became a servant of the people of Kenya seconded to Kenyans by the African Union. But he seems to tread too carefully in advocating for the people of Kenya before the political leaders he had of necessity to deal with. He accepts at face value what Kenyans have seen through as delay tactics or even outright lies. During yesterday’s press conference he refused to castigate the Government for issuing false statements to the effect that 90% of the reform agenda had been accomplished. And yet every presentation to him indicated that the situation was extremely desperate and dire. Speaking the truth to our Government is what we expect from Kofi Annan. This he may very well have done behind closed doors, but yesterday he missed an opportunity to show his empathy for the victims of this Government’s misconduct and mismanagement. We foresee this as a strategic error in his mediation mission and fear yesterday’s press conference will diminish his respect in the eyes of Kenyans should God forbid things fall apart in Kenya.
So we addresses Kofi Annan as Kenyans he chose to serve and wish to outline that this Coalition government firstly:
a) Is NOT Clean; Your Excellency we have evidence to show that more than 60% of our cabinet consists of Ministers who have been involved in corruption, misuse of office and of individuals who have been involved in the violation of the rights of Kenyans or condoned the same. It is Public knowledge that some cabinet ministers are suspects who might have committed crimes against humanity earning the infamous distinction of being in the Waki envelope. This does not tell us of a clean government. Parliament has been used as forum for dealing where huge bribes are offered to obtain votes. The Judiciary is known to be corrupt. Where are the reformers that will drive the reform Agenda then if we do not turn to the people?
b) It is NOT Lean- such a bloated cabinet and government that remain highly wasteful. Wastage of public funds and resources has given profligacy a new face. Yet as expected, large government is always non effective because you can not coordinate 93 ministers and assistant ministers that are seen to be ODM and PNU ministries effectively.
c) It is NOT Effective- Kenyans are starving and dying all over the nation. There is no policy coherence. The much rumored about harmonized PNU-ODM Manifesto has never been published so the people of Kenya simply do not know what the policies of this government are. The 5 year Development plan based on the vision 2030 does not seem to be followed by any one in government.
d) It is NOT Accountable- corruption has just risen and no one seems to face punishment for the corruption that is all over the country from the local councils, parastatals, in ministries or at State House.
e) It is NOT Responsive – impunity remains intact. Kenyans are being killed by the police; The National Accord from Agenda 1 to 4 has been handled so badly. That same government is using our taxes to do propaganda about reforms.
The Partnership for Change published a technical assessment on the delivery so far on the whole National Accord Agreement from Agenda 1 to 4 and we found that far from the propaganda doing rounds and held as the truth in government circles, the National Accord Agreements, which are Law in Kenya are not being implemented.
Secondly Sir, Last Year during the negotiations, the National Civil Society Congress and the Vital Voices called for a 21-member National Accord Implementation Oversight mechanism to over see the signed National Accord Agreement. The oversight Body would be necessary to ensure that the reform process can and shall be owned by the widest cross section of Kenyans and not by the two principals and the parties in government. This was not granted.
We are very frustrated that the politicians are basically in charge of holding themselves to account. Even progress reports from outside government do not have any impact on the catalyst and facilitative role you are playing to promote implementation of the National Accord. The Partnership for change wrote to you a letter in February 21, 2009 but we have never received a reply from your office Sir.
Thirdly, Clearly the government is not interested in implementing the National accord in accordance with the wishes and demands of the people of Kenya but according to the wishes of the cabinet and PNU and ODM. We therefore in Principle, find it a serious miscarriage of the people’s right to democratic participation in processes concerning them when we do not strong citizens participation in the implementation of the National Accord.
As Kenyans we propose the following five concrete steps to Implementing Reforms
1. The immediate establishment of a 21 member National Accord Implementation oversight Committee to work with the Panel of eminent Africans to ensure the systematic assessment and oversight. We will need a carefully selected Committee of serious and independent-minded Kenyans who represent the widest cross section of the Kenyan nation to sit on the Oversight Committee.
2. That a clear road map be outlined by this Oversight Committee. This is the road map that shall offer clear standards and benchmarks against which the government and all National Accord Implementation bodies and agencies shall be held to account. Right now we are groping in a discretionary Assessment environment. Kenya has since the pre- independence struggle fought for democratization using universal standards as first enshrined in the UN Declaration of Human Rights and the later International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This is how we have been advancing our democracy. Kofi Annan is too easy on those violating the peoples’ rights. Now is the time that the standards have been lowered below what can be acceptable to the people of Kenya.
3. That Kofi Annan’s office immediately releases a provisional progress report on the progress. It must be a report that enjoys the greatest input from the agencies that are working on the reform agenda and not government. It must be current to October 2009 – the South report is now out of date. Finally, Government cannot be a referee in its own assignment.
4. We propose that the International Community delivers to the government our clear message that the National Budget as currently partially passed by the National Assembly clearly shows government is not interested in implementing the National Accord. The Partnership for Change has completed a detailed analysis of the National Budget- the most elaborate government policy tool- and we have found out that government is not putting the money where it is required – rather spending is actually away from the National Accord reform priorities. For example the Government Spokesman’s advertising budget is larger than the individual allocations to the Truth Commission and the Witness Protection programme. We want government to review its spending priorities to reflect the National Accord priorities – the Appropriation Bill pending before Parliament should be amended to reflect a new focus as implied by Kofi Annan’s final statement. The window of opportunity for the political elite to continue to perpetrate a fraud on the public by retaining status quo under the guise of lack of resources for implementing the National Accord should be slammed shut now.
5. Lastly, Kenyans are concerned that the voices of the women and the youth of Kenya have become even further marginalized under the Grand Coalition than ever before. Kenyans do not want to be spectators in the governance of their country. These two constituencies represent the vast majority of the livelihood interests of Kenyans. We call for the immediate structural and policy steps to improve the playground for the youth, women of Kenya and the people of Kenya generally. This includes for example the passage of a budget that implements a 60% developmental and 40% recurrent expenditure policy. This will release resources for reforms will benefit the youth and women of Kenya first.
We also recommend that, as the religious leadership and we the Partnership for Change have said before, to ensure that the National Accord is implemented to save our nation from a fresh round of conflict, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission should be empowered to immediately register all Kenyans as voters to vote in the referendum but also to vote for a CLEAR government as soon as possible before 2012. We are keen to cut short the suffering of Kenyans who may be asking themselves: why did Kofi Annan actually come to Kenya and what does he plan for us on his next visit? Hopefully, not another indefinite lease of life to this non-performing Grand Coalition Government OR more talk of reform windows of opportunity closing. Truth is you lose a day every day that we do not implement reforms and no one can predict the exact date the reform window slams shut in our faces. That was a disappointing visit but since it is our country it is truly only our responsibility as responsible citizens.
Issued at Nairobi Thursday 8, October 2009
MARS GROUP KENYA
For and on Behalf of the Partnership for Change
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