Category Archives: Uncategorized

Does Kenya need another saba saba?

Contributor: Jaafar Shukri

Cord alliance leaders have declared July 7 a national holiday soon when they kicked off countrywide tour to push the government to have a national dialogue in the country. Even some ODM officials said they will swear in Raila Odinga as President if dialogue between the opposition and the government does not take place by July 7.

Many Kenyans are now asking themselves what could happen as we go nearer and nearer to July 7, for some it’s like fighting against democracy 24years later after we fought for it.

The first Saba Saba day was marked on 7. 7. 1990 under a hail of tear gas and a violent confrontation between Kenyans tired of the oppressive KANU regime and riot police who were agents of those seeking to protect the regime. By then Kenya had a dictatorial president who was for all intents and purposes a god, a mutilated constitution, an oppressed media with only one TV and one radio station that were mouthpieces of the regime, it was a one-party state, the intelligence services eavesdropped on all conversations and a wrong word could land you in the torture chambers, one could not freely trade in Forex, the judiciary sang to the tune of the president and so on and so on.

24 years later, Kenya has a new constitution, a presidency with term-limits, a free and vibrant media, freedom of expression with guys able to even question the president with no fatal repercussions, their many registered political parties and there are many ways Kenyans can air their grievances than mass action.

The Animal Farm of Mandera County!

The Majority leader ,
Minority leader,
Honorable speaker Mandera County assembly,
County Economic Advisor,
I am writing to explain why I am disappointed, with recent trip to Far east Asia by County assembly representatives to the tune of more than 15 million Kenya shilling inclusive hefty allowances.
I am drafting this open letter to begin with in the spirit of principle and believe that public funds must be expended for an authorized public purpose. An expenditure is made for a public purpose when its purpose is to benefit the public interest rather than private individuals or private purposes which wittingly or unwittingly as you may protest against will put the Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia trip under either of the above three categories.
Isn’t it strange but widely known that Mandera County can no longer afford to feed itself, provide world class education to its young generations, control mortality rate, or plan for its future generations. but its elected representatives thought it acceptable to claim refunds on expenses when they attend foreign trips, thought it is morally acceptable to dispatch as much members of the assembly to bank on allowances ? Even the explanations and the justification sounded rather thin and hardly believable. It is appalling to think public money were spent in this manner. Who is monitoring such claims? Mandera county representative definition and justification of the trip and the amount -related to expenses is bad enough – the image of the tearing up on a bus tour over world class facility built by morally compassed society in far East, and photo taking sessions like school trip deeply disturbs.
The attitude satirised in George Orwell’s Animal Farm appears to have been firmly entrenched in the County assembly well before they even celebrate the first anniversary i can reference back to Israel trip which never materialize any concerete outcome. However, this is about awful lot more than just fair use of public funds, it is ultimately about the quality of service of the wards the members represent, business like leadership to fight for their equal share of county resources to county wards, but indeed in the world of impunity and mirror of tribal shade, all is perfect and well, regardless of any darkness behind the mirror. It is even more concerning that you honourable speaker’s office is silent about this. What happened to your moral compass?
We the people, with the power of pen and paper will and shall not rest and we shall not take this lightly, in recognizing that’s why i am using power of literature to demonstrate my dissatisfaction, on how the MCA overlooked and failed to read the mood of mandera county residence.

Abdi Maalim Eda

Banisa Constituency

Mandera County.

North Eastern gets lion share of Uwezo Fund

Daily Nation

Constituencies in north eastern region got a lion share of the Sh5 billion Uwezo Fund in a move aimed at spurring economic growth in a region considered as marginalised.

A statement from the Devolution ministry headed by Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru, stated that the Sh5 billion Uwezo fund has been released to 290 constituencies.

Mandera South constituency got Sh31 million while Mandera North was awarded Sh25 million.

Daadab constituency got Sh21 million, Mandera West (Sh24 million), Barissa (Sh24 million), Lafey (Sh24 million), Wajir North (Sh23 million), Tarbaj (Sh21 million), Moyale (Sh20 million), Wajir East (Sh20 million), Wajir West (Sh20 million), while Eldas got 19 million.

Other constituencies in the region got between Sh17 million and Sh19 million.

Constituencies in Nairobi County were allocated the least amount with most of them getting between Sh14 million and Sh16 million.

Mathare, Kibra and Ruaraka were allocated Sh16 million.

Embakasi Central, Embakasi West, Embakasi East, Makadara and Starehe constituencies got Sh14 million.

Those that were allocated Sh15 million are Kamukunji, Embakasi North, Embakasi South, Kasarani, Roysambu, Langata, Dagoretti North, Dagoretti South and Westlands.

According to the Devolution ministry, 75 per cent out of the Sh6 billion allocated to the fund was distributed equally to all the constituencies.

“25 per cent has been disbursed on the basis of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics poverty index for equilisation purposes,” the statement read.

The Ministry explained that another 180 million was set aside as administration fee for national and constituency offices while Sh465 million will be used for capacity building for fund beneficiaries and target groups

Duale threatens to ditch Jubilee over crackdown

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale Friday threatened to withdraw support for the Jubilee government over what he termed arbitrary arrests of “his people.”

This is the first time Mr Duale, ranked high up in the government pecking order, has made unsavoury remarks about President Kenyatta’s government.

“We stand by the interests of our people. There should be no doubt about that,” Mr Duale said friday at a rally in Eastleigh attended by over 20 MPs and Senators from North Eastern, Coast and Upper Eastern regions.

He said police were targeting Muslims. “We were elected by the Muslim community and we shall defend their interests,” he said amidst chants from the charged crowd.

“It shall no longer be business as usual. We shall not and will never allow our people to be discriminated against, never,” Mr Duale declared.

Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow accused the government of encouraging youth radicalisation by the way it was fighting terrorism.

“The issue is not the Muslim clerics. They become radicalised through the actions of the government. Makaburi was labelled a terrorist and was under 24-hour surveillance but when he is killed, the government says it doesn’t know who did it,” he said.

The legislators accused officers from Pangani police station, of raping women and demanding bribes from suspects for their release.

Nairobi County Commissioner Njoroge Ndirangu, however, said the operation will continue.

“We are not targeting Eastleigh alone. This operation started in Karen in February and will spread to the whole of Nairobi,” he said.  

It’s unfair to blame Kenyan Somalis collectively for every act of terrorism

MP, Wajir South

Collective responsibility of a whole community for the actions of a few is a fallacy. Normally, some are criminals, a few are outstanding heroes or patriots, while the rest are just like the bewildered herd with no idea about anything. Somalis are no different.

The bulk are poor, illiterate and basically concerned about the daily rut they find themselves in. They have suffered from the same ineptitude of their leaders.

The Somali problem is an African problem in which the identity of a person is typified by the existence of another country where one’s ethnic origins lie, separate from the de facto citizenship where one had been forced by Europe to claim domicile. Many African tribes are trapped in borders that absolutely make no sense.

Somalis in Kenya tried separatism for a while but it didn’t work; it made more sense to have access to infrastructure and fertile land than to be confined to a desert.

Once the separatism was over, Somalis became a scapegoat for all kinds of ills resulting in the Garissa, Wagalla and Malka Mari massacres.

At one point in 1989/1990, Kenya deported 25 per cent of its Somali population to Ethiopia, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda. Even some Kanu officials were deported. Every new security problem is blamed on Somalis: banditry, poaching, piracy and now terrorism.

The brief separatist war of 1967 has become an excuse to divide up and militarise the Northern Frontier. Today there is risk of the same warped thinking perpetuating the same flawed and disastrous policies of yesteryear empowered by foreign money and equipment.

Today, spousal conflict may land one in the hands of the ATPU. A soft-haired man taking photographs is a potential suspect and travelling for Muslim men under 40 is becoming a nightmare.

When Kenya invaded Somalia with the excuse of routing Al-Shabaab, many were dismayed. The two-decade conflict has defied any form of intervention because the players have been shifting goalposts.

It started as a revolution against a vicious dictator, mutated into a clan conflict, turned into organised crime by warlords, then spawned piracy and religious militarism and today has two dangerous offshoots, clan fiefdoms and religious fanaticism.

Kenya cannot transform into a frontline state for “war on terror”; it will destroy the little progress made over decades. An alternative means to guarantee security is to police the borders.

Somalis in Kenya are these days holding their breath, lest they be caught in a xenophobic frenzy next time another terrorist comes calling. Eastleigh seems to be under curfew. Most people stay indoors after dark. Nobody is making any long-term investments.

INTERVIEW: ‘Kenyan Somalis are guilty until proven innocent’ – MP Diriye Abdullahi

Wajir South MP Diriye Abdullahi was accused of trying to release an illegal immigrant from JKIA on Thursday 27th March, 2014. He told Larry Madowo the man was one of his constituents but was denied entry because he couldn’t speak Swahili. The legislator says Kenyan Somalis are increasingly getting harassed and ethnically profiled especially after the Westgate attack.

RT Hon Keith Vaz: UK MP or Kenyan Special Envoy?


by Abukar Awale

Recently, Rt Hon Keith Vaz, Labour MP for Leicester East and Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee led a delegation to Kenya ostensibly as a fact finding mission to explore the impact of the impending UK khat ban on the Meru community in Kenya where khat is grown on a large scale. The ban is expected to come into effect by the month of May this year, as announced by the current Home Secretary Theresa May in July last year.

As a British citizen and UK taxpayer, I find the mission somewhat surprising given that as Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, Hon Vaz’s remit would involve exploring the impact of the khat ban a bit closer to home. But Mr Vaz’s ill-advised mission doesn’t surprise the Somali community because he has repeatedly rebuffed without providing explanation community’s attempts of meeting him to express their concerns on the social harm of Khat in UK.

For the benefit of those who may be unfamiliar with Khat or Mira, it is scientifically known as Catha edulis, and contains a number of chemicals such as cathine and cathinone (amphetamine-like stimulant) which on their own are illegal substances classified under the Misuse of Substance Act of 1971. Khat is traditionally consumed in the Horn of Africa (primarily by Somalis) and is chewed in leaf form for a number of hours until one experiences feelings of euphoria. However, prolonged use of Khat has severe implications for both physical and mental health and its abuse has been blamed for much of societal ills within our community. It has been banned across the Western world and regrettably, Britain has been the last western nation to follow suit. Even Holland, perhaps the most permissive nation in Western Europe with regard to the recreational use of drugs decided to proscribe Khat in 2012 and the ban is now in effect there. Simply put, among what you might call the overwhelming majority of civilized world, there is near unanimous agreement that Khat is a harmful drug and in our view, it is therefore rightfully classified here as a Class C substance here in the UK as such.

Some will point out that the UK’s Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) recommended that khat should not be made illegal due to insufficient evidence of social and medical harm. From what I can see, the ACMD seems to be the only non-governmental advisory body in the world of its kind that has made such a recommendation. After all, within Kenya’s own borders, the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse has also recommended classifying Khat under Kenyan drug laws.

Perhaps we are able to contextualize ACMD’s stance on Khat only when we consider the case of its former head, Professor David Nutt, relieved from his duties for stating that horse riding was more harmful that ecstasy. As a retraction, Professor Nutt stated the following in an article posted in the Guardian newspaper on 11/11/13: “Alcohol is both one of the oldest and most dangerous drugs, responsible for about 2.5 million deaths worldwide, which is more than malaria or Aids …….If alcohol was discovered today it could never be sold as it is far too toxic to be allowed under current food regulations, let alone pharmaceutical safety thresholds.” Now I’m not scientist, but that to me sounds like what would be robust evidence required for the banning of alcohol under the ACMD’s own criteria. If they haven’t already made this recommendation, I’d be interested to hear their explanation of why they have not done so to date.

The irony that has been lost by the Labour MP, Chairman of Home Select Committee is the juxtaposition of a Conservative Home Secretary in the person of Theresa May banning Khat in order to protect the Somalis as a vulnerable community juxtaposed with a (New) Labour politician seeking to reverse it for apparent commercial reasons. One might have thought that the opposite would be true. Mr Vaz is quoted as follows: “The UK Parliament which believes in democracy realized that Mira was the major source of income for the Meru people and saw the need to revert the bill and persuade the queen not to ascend to it but rather partner with the Meru people to give the best to their consumers without brokers.” He is then further quoted: “I call upon the two governments to engage in dialogue to remove all the existing barriers that pose a threat for investment and this will further enhance individual business links between the two countries.”

Now I’m sure that no one would find fault with this if we were talking about tea and coffee. However, the problem is the Labour MP for Leicester East is seemingly more concerned with the financial impact of outlawing an internationally recognized drug in Khat on the Meru community in north eastern Kenya than he is with his own constituents in Leicester, a sizeable proportion of which are Somalis who have suffered greatly from the harmful effects of khat as a community. In other words, Mr Vaz prioritises commercial ties with foreign drug dealers over the wellbeing of UK citizens at home which in and of itself should be alarming.

But then again, it could be argued that Mr Vaz is only acting true to form as controversy seemingly never too far from him in his political life. After all, The Hinduja passport affair in 2001 is amongst other unsavoury incidents over the years seeming to follow him in his political career like as a rather bad smell. That he has managed to still be deemed a suitable candidate to stand as a Labour MP in spite of all is surprising and given his chequered history, some have rather amusingly labelled him the ‘Teflon’ MP. If Mr Vaz were prepared to actually take the time to learn about the destruction that Khat wrought on so many people in our community in his own constituency, perhaps people would be prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt.

As the lead UK Anti-khat campaigner, I would be happy to arrange a meeting with Keith Vaz and sections of our community that have campaigned so tirelessly for Khat to be banned from our shores. Judging by Mr Vaz’s recent trip, it would seem that he either considers Leicester East as a particularly safe Labour seat or perhaps more outlandishly, an opening will soon be available in Meru Community. However, as UK citizens, it is hoped that the Rt Honourable MP for Leicester East would afford us the same concern and attention in Britain as he displayed to Kenyan politicians over four thousand miles away.

Conflicts in South Sudan, CAR, DR Congo distract from countries to watch in 2014

(The East African)

The past two montImagehs have not been good ones for the Africa Rising narrative.

South Sudan has imploded and in Central Africa, a genocide of sorts is taking place, with Muslims now targeted in revenge for the atrocities of a short-lived regime that seized power last year.

These two stories, together with the DR Congo’s tribulations, have unfortunately hogged headlines from the continent this year, but other things have been happening in Africa.

READ: Crises top Africa Union agenda

The manoeuvring ahead of South Africa’s election, while still yet to come off the boil, has been high-profile, especially with the collapse of the negotiations between Democratic Alliance leader Hellen Zille, and Agang stalwart Mamphela Ramphele.

READ: Of the 11 elections in Africa this year, South Africa is the country to watch

The push to unseat Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan is definitely on. The decibels on the Kenya-ICC story have also been quite high, as has been the surprisingly vociferous debate over homosexuality on the continent.

But here we give you a rundown of the stories that have flown under the radar:

1: Gambia’s Jammeh wields the axe

President Yahya Jammeh has just sacked his energy minister Teneng Mba Jaiteh and taken over her duties.

We are not sure what she did, as the sackings are always explained away “as acting under the provisions of section 71(4) b of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia.”

Earlier last month, President Jammeh had sacked Ghanaian-born Chief Justice Mabel Yamoa Agyemang, and again gave no reason. Her replacement was a Nigerian. Her predecessor was another Nigerian.

While President Jammeh did not take over as Chief Justice, there is little else he does not run, including the Defence and Religious Affairs Ministries. Since he came to power in a coup in 1994, President Jammeh has hired and fired close to 200 Cabinet ministers and top officials.

He said he does not delight in being so decisive: “I have never had any wish to appoint anyone that I know I would end up dismissing because I will then be wasting our time and slowing down our progress.”

ALSO READ: Gambia quits Commonwealth after 48 years

2: Libya- Law of the brigands

Since Gaddafi’s ignominious end in October 2011 and a colourless election in July 2012 — the first “free” polls — little of substance has come out of the oil-rich North African country, with sensational stories such as opening of presidential sex dens popping up once in a while in tabloids.

Of all the Arab Spring beneficiaries, only Egypt can lay claim to a more chaotic transition. But Libya has been slowly moving to prise itself out of the grip of militia groups that essentially run the country.

So powerful are the brigands that they last October briefly abducted Prime Minister Ali Zeidan.

But last week, Libyans went to the polls to elect a new transitional authority, after forcing the current interim General National Congress to back down on a plan to extend its mandate by a year.

A new constitution has also been in the works, with the 60-member assembly that will be elected expected to finalise the charter.

The biggest challenge however is to restore the rule of law to a country given over to widespread lawlessness.

3: Botswana’s Mr Teflon

Botswana is widely regarded as the standard that Africa should aspire to. The country is an “oddity” on a continent where the “African solutions to African problems” mantra involves turning a blind eye to governance infractions.

The Southern African country’s strong pro-governance approach to issues has won it mainly admirers, but also some foes.

Headed by “Africa’s most eligible bachelor” Lieutenant General Seretse Ian Khama, the country is by most African standards prosperous, aided by minerals and its embrace of the rule of law.

Gaborone has just cut diplomatic ties with North Korea following a damning UN report; it is a safe bet that not too many African countries will follow its lead.

President Khama, for example, held off on the Kenya-driven AU demand that African countries storm out of the International Criminal Court en masse, while he was the only leader to question Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s re-election, threatening to stop observer missions to fraudulent African elections.

The country was in December 2013 ranked Africa’s least corrupt state by Transparency International, while it has the fifth highest per capita income on the continent.

Even international PR nightmares such as its controversial treatment of the Basarwa — Bushmen — have not dented its image, with tourists still trooping to its game parks.

The country will in October go to the polls and while the opposition have in recent months sought to put up a united front against President Khama, it is an initiative that has struggled to gain traction.

Only the most optimistic see the president being denied a second term in office.

4: Zimbabwe gets sanctions relief

The European Union — that great target of Robert Mugabe — has finally come through on plans to ease sanctions on Zimbabwe, following the election in July that finally got rid of coalition partner Morgan Tsvangirai.

Given that the First Family are still blacklisted, Harare has termed the détente a “non-event.” Secretly, however, it will have been pleased, with the country said to be courting China for an urgent economic bailout package.

This comes as agriculture and manufacturing have all but collapsed, while mining proceeds regularly end up in the pockets of top officials. The country has retired its much-maligned currency, and has announced it will use up to nine foreign currencies.

READ: Zimbabwe adopts four more currencies

President Mugabe, who turned 90 this month, is unperturbed by all this. Expected to run again at the next election, he insists he is not due for retirement any time soon.

He will, however, have been keenly watching the EU’s recent moves, with the bloc expected to resume direct development aid disbursements through the government for the first time since 2002.

The US, however, remains distinctly unimpressed. President Mugabe will not be among the 47 out of 54 African leaders invited to President Barack Obama’s US-Africa Leaders Summit in August.

5: Madagascar- Waiting for Godot

The former tourist magnet that is Madagascar has just come through a presidential election that went to a second round, although you wouldn’t know it given the weariness that regularly accompanies political developments in the island country.

The elections were won by a man with possibly the longest name of any world leader, Hery Rajaonarimampianina. The country is now looking to pick itself up from the political turmoil that started in 2009 when a disc jockey seized power with the help of the country’s reactionary military.

The resultant unrest soon hit the economy, with some analysts estimating it has cost the Indian Ocean Island at least $8 billion so far. That is not pocket change for a country with Madagascar’s poverty numbers, and the focus is now on pushing donors to reopen aid taps.

According to IRIN news agency, the imposition of sanctions, and the freezing of all but emergency assistance, saw poverty rates among its 22 million people rise about 70 per cent to 92 per cent.

Hery — as the tongue twister-wary media have taken to referring to him — is now forming his government.

As a man seen as a proxy of former president Andry Rajoelina, he faces the difficult task of convincing donors there has been a break with the past.

6: Will an ailing Bouteflika go for a fourth term?

Algeria President Abdelaziz Bouteflika had been keeping the country on tenterhooks for months on whether he will stand for a fourth term.

On Saturday February 23, Bouteflika said he will run in the April elections and the presidency confirmed he has formally submitted his re-election papers.

In a nation that is still scarred by the brutal civil war of the 1990s, a vicious battle to succeed him has been proceeding behind the scenes.

Many analysts had guessed he would not run again on account of ill-health, having been diagnosed with a mini-stroke last April, which kept him out of the country until July. He also, in 2005, underwent surgery for a bleeding stomach ulcer.

The 76-year-old has ruled the country with an iron fist since 1999 — long enough, according to the opposition.

“Everyone knows he’s sick… People only talk of his illness, when normally one would discuss a president’s actions, his record,” said Abderrazak Makri, the leader of the Islamist group Movement for the Society of Peace in January.

A bitter falling out between the leader of the ruling National Liberation Front and the secretive but powerful leader of the country’s shadowy military intelligence has exposed increasing divisions in the regime.

For most Algerians, a peaceful transition of any colour will do.

7: The AU’s invisible man

Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdelaziz is a man unused to publicity. The last time he excited the continent was when he was “accidentally” shot by a soldier in 2012, forcing him to spend a total of eight weeks in France undergoing treatment.

The 55-year-old former general who seized power in a coup in 2008 before “regularising” his status through an election a year later, is now the new political head of the African Union, having taken the seat in January.

As yet, no one has come up with a description for the 54-member bloc’s achievements, and for many it remains a talking shop, a club that protects the hardy breed that is the “African Big Man.”

Having celebrated its 50th anniversary last year at lavish parties in Addis Ababa, the bloc has still had the International Criminal Court to thank for giving it a semblance of unity against a backdrop of francophone-anglophone tensions as it pushed to controversially have sitting heads of state shielded from international justice.

READ: How does the African Union score at 50?

Given that the seat rotates among the regions, the bloc often ends up with some colourful figureheads such as Equatorial Guinea’s Obiang Nguema and Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi.

It is hard to see Abdelaziz making his mark at the helm of the organisation. Given that he is up for re-election this year, the distractions of office should make it harder to retain focus.

8: Guinea-Bissau at it again

A popular fact trotted out about Guinea-Bissau is that no elected leader there has ever finished his term in office.

It is a challenging country to live in at the best of times, beset by poverty, piracy and an unwanted reputation as a narco-state.

The latest effort to right the ship was an election that was slated for November. The poll was postponed to March 16 — the reason given being general unpreparedness.

And the election was again quietly pushed back to April, again using the same reason, risking the anger of donors and the international community who want the term of the interim government brought to an end.

The country is looking to restore constitutional order after the latest instalment of a coup in 2012. It would not surprise many if the April elections were again deferred.

9: Burkina Faso- Fiddling with the law

President Blaise Compaore seems set to change his country’s presidential term requirements to allow him to extend his 26-year reign.

This means that an entire generation — 60 per cent of the country is aged under 25 — has never known any other president apart from the 63-year-old Compaore.

The idea of another term for him is apparently anathema to many, from the youth to opposition leaders. The latter have been defecting from the ruling Congress for Democracy and Progress in droves, and in December an estimated crowd of 100,000 turned out to protest any bid to have him go on.

But President Compaore has survived before: In 2011, a wave of protests over the rising cost of basic goods led to a mutiny that forced him to dissolve his government.

The social protest should he try to force through changes via a constitution could be a big problem: Burkina Faso is ranked 183rd of 186 nations ranked by the annual UN Human Development Index.

10: Sudan- Bashir’s (mis)calculations

Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir has lately had a lot to think about, in addition to his indictment by the International Criminal Court. Widespread protests last September at austerity measures following the elimination of subsidies presented the stiffest challenge to his 24-year rule.

The ruling National Congress Party has also been hit hard by dissent, prompting a reshuffle aimed at strengthening his weakened hand, while rebels continue to trouble him in pockets of the country. Direct peace talks in Addis Ababa last week collapsed in under 20 minutes.

READ: UN urges ceasefire as Sudan-rebel peace talks begin

The conflict in South Sudan is not helping either, nor is his tiff with Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni over each other’s alleged support for insurgents.

It would seem it was the need for a sound night’s sleep that saw President Bashir dangle an inclusive government at the opposition last month, ahead of a General Election next year.

Unsurprisingly, Sudanese opposition and rebels have turned down the invitation, terming it a political manoeuvre to pave the way for his re-election.

11: Burundi- Dirty games afoot?

There is political flux in Burundi, a tiny country that rivals the Central African Republic for anonymity. Many remember Burundi for its ethnic bloodshed, but neighbour Rwanda is more recognised over the scale of the genocide there.

The country holds its polls next year, and already the delicate power-sharing formula in government between the Hutus and Tutsis is struggling to hold.

President Pierre Nkurunziza could yet go for a third term by changing the Constitution, a sensitive document that guarantees power sharing between the country’s Hutu majority, which is 85 per cent of the population, and the Tutsi minority.

The manoeuvring for the presidency in recent weeks has taken on ugly overtones, in a country whose history is littered with bitter ethnic killings, massacres in 1972 and 1988, and civil war.

12: Changing the Constitution

Zambia and Tanzania have both been reviewing their supreme law. For Tanzania, it is straightforward. The biggest debate has been around the structure of the Union: a three-tier government or a two-tier one? It is safe to say that a new document on course for this year, and the squabbles are over solid issues.

It could not be more different in neighbouring Zambia. There, President Michael Sata rode into power from the opposition, and promised to swiftly deliver a new charter that did away with the excesses of successive post-colonial governments. It is yet to happen.

President Sata, now enjoying the trappings of power, looks to have grown tired of the process, alarming Zambians who thought they had seen a new dawn in 2011.

What went wrong in Mandera County?


Mandera County economy has been in decline for the last 50 years. Not only that Mandera has been hit hard by the insecurity since the collapse of Siyad Barre regime in 1990, it also seems to be caught in a vicious cycle. Since inward investment is difficult to come by, economic activity in general is low in Mandera and all Northern NFD counties as a whole, which makes it an unattractive place for any investor to be. On top of that, the economic policy of the previous three successive Government of Kenyatta,Moi and Kibaki didn’t not help. The Now County government under Ali Roba has mainly one objective, to keep the County public sector as large as possible since it is public sector jobs that form the main shoddy 4.5 equal opportunity policy that was negotiated at county level, and because of county government employment is often the only mechanism to address structural unemployment in mandera county’s low economic activity.


The result of this devastating policy and the long term structural problems of our county economy are reflected in the economic figures public every year since 1963. In almost all indices of economic activity mandera county lags behind all other counties, whilst it leads in almost all statistics of government budget allocations which mandera county leads the rest of regions.

But look more closely and the figures reveal an even more shocking picture. Mandera County also lags behind in terms of productivity. The gross added value in Mandera compared to the rest of the counties is 0%, leaving mandera County way behind any other region as one of the zero productive of the Kenya.

How difficult it is to break out of this vicious cycle of enormous talking shop and the stagnant low economic activity has sparked a lively discussion amongst many who care about this brilliant county. The only people who seems to show little interest in tackling the deep seated problems of Mandera County is the lecures at Moi stadium once every year.
moi girls

Although the County Government Leadership avoided the bad press this week, The poor performance of the Mandera County government and slow progress is widely acknowledged amongst the sons and daughters of the county and reveals one fact above all. They still have no strategy and policies on how to pull Mandera County out of this mess which previous heartless corrupt regimes permitted to develop over the last 49 years in power. There are plenty of possible solutions in the last 12 month but the first impression seems to fail to impress.
The most attractive way out of the situation would of course be to stop this tokenistic recruitment adverts coming every month to blind us off and shrink the public sector and to free up County expenditure to invest in the social development, Youth development, secure and well funded education, kick start of infrastructural development . There can be no doubt that the current ratio of County governmental spending stifles private investment and economic activity.

Since the Youthful County Assembly has been created it has either idled its way through the decade or engaged in matters, at best, peripheral to the state of the economy, at worst, detrimental to its growth prospects. Part of the explanation is that Mandera County Assembly members of all parties are of fairly low calibre. Any talented brains have been blocked or marginalized thus alienated them from giving the well deserve a second chance to salvage the county. With a severely restricted talent tool for the mandera County developmental affairs, debates are often either painfully partisan and tribal, or focussed on taxing Mama mboga, unresponsive and less prioritised agenda and unwarranted tender announcement. Needless to say that neither of those are of any consequence to the Mandera County economy or development.

It seems that as long as the Mandera County Government is in denial about its own responsibility for the devastating inequalities in resource distributions and as long as the Ali Roba’s County Government clings to the mirage that County public sector employment is the only way to tackle socio-economic deprivation, little will change in the land of Halima and Hassan.

Mandera officials refute allegations that al-Shabaab controls town


Source: Sabahi
A Kenyan parliamentary report presented last month has painted a dismal picture of the security situation in the north-eastern town of Mandera, saying unequivocally that security forces have surrendered the town to al-Shabaab.

Security officers control a crowd during a political rally on December 20, 2012, in Mandera. A Kenyan parliamentary committee report has called upon security forces in Mandera to do more to protect the area from al-Shabaab militants. [Bosire Boniface/Sabahi]
Security officers control a crowd during a political rally on December 20, 2012, in Mandera. A Kenyan parliamentary committee report has called upon security forces in Mandera to do more to protect the area from al-Shabaab militants. [Bosire Boniface/Sabahi]

As critical as the report is, it has drawn mixed reactions from citizens and officials in Mandera County.

While citizens are asking for greater protection from the militant group, officials say their security efforts are not always visible because of the unique challenges they face in the triangular border area between Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

During a visit to Mandera last October in the wake of al-Shabaab’s siege of Westgate mall, members of the joint parliamentary committee tasked with authoring the report established that ill-equipped home guards, not police officers, were the ones patrolling the town.

Parliament resumed Tuesday (February 11th) after the December break and will discuss the joint committee’s entire report on the Westgate attack, including the Mandera findings, from February 18th to the 20th, according to Majority Leader Aden Duale.

Ilyas Barre Shill, Fafi parliamentarian and a member of the joint committee, said al-Shabaab is in control of Mandera.

“It appears that al-Shabaab has inflicted fear among the police officers with frequent improvised explosive devices, grenade and gun attacks,” Shill told Sabahi. “As a result, police avoid venturing onto the streets for patrols and remain confined in police quarters.”

“Residents told us that until 2011, security officers were a common feature in the town chasing smugglers of goods from Somalia,” he said. “But these days, the officers are only spotted when VIPs visit the town from Nairobi.”

Residents also said that gunshots and explosions are common sounds in Mandera, Shill said, adding that al-Shabaab has been blamed for hurling grenades at offices of international aid agencies in the town.
The report findings, recommendations

Security forces generally do not have control of the town, especially at night, according to the report.

“The government should post more security personnel to boost patrols along the border in Mandera County,” the report said. “There is literally no police presence or patrol in the town at night. The town is patrolled by a handful of home-guards who are not properly equipped to deal with militia insurgence.”

The committee, co-chaired by Baringo East representative Asman Kamama Abongotum and Tetu representative Ndung’u Gethenji, recommended that the “no-man’s land” area along the border be cleared and the border between Kenya and Somalia clearly demarcated.

Currently, there are temporary kiosks and mortar-walled homes in the “no-man’s land” area, but the committee said all structures should be demolished and a trench dug along the border to permit crossing only at designated entry points.

The report recommended that a number of administration police posts be re-opened immediately, the military camp there be strengthened and better equipped, and military personnel be deployed to patrol along the border with Somalia.

Ahmed Ibrahim Ugas, 23, a native of Mandera, said the committee’s findings are a sad but true reflection of his hometown.

“The report is an indictment of our security forces and exposes the mortal danger in which residents and their property are in,” said Ugas, a law student at the University of Nairobi.

“My friends and I would stroll around the town at night and not encounter even a single security officer,” Ugas told Sabahi about his visit to Mandera over the December holidays. “Most of the time, police would take more than an hour to respond to insecurity incidents. Residents are basically on their own and at the mercy of criminal elements.”

“When moving around town we encountered very suspicious people with concealed guns,” he said, adding that residents avoid reporting them to authorities because “police will take their time to respond”.
Police arrest 3 al-Shabaab suspects

In contrast, police are using a security operation this past weekend to show that they are on top of the situation.

Kenyan police on February 8th arrested three al-Shabaab suspects in Koromia on the outskirts of town, Mandera County Police Commander Noah Mwivanda told Sabahi.

“The police officers who arrested them were on night patrol, a testament that security officers have not surrendered the town to al-Shabaab,” he said.

The suspects were arrested around 1 am in possession of three AK-47 rifles, 259 rounds of ammunition and a video camera, Mwivanda said.

He said police were still investigating the suspects’ intentions and whether they had been previously involved in a series of attacks against security forces in the town.

“Last year there were a series of night attacks targeting police camps in which three police officers died and more than 20 government vehicles razed by the al-Shabaab in Mandera town,” Mwivanda said.
Security forces have risked ‘limbs and lives’

Mandera East Police Chief Jackson Rotich said security forces “are fully in charge of the town and have never ceded to any terror outfit.”

He said security forces have risked “limbs and lives” to keep al-Shabaab and other criminals at bay.

“Over the last two years more than 20 security officers have either been killed or injured by al-Shabaab,” Rotich told Sabahi. “The officers were all attacked while on security patrol within Mandera town. The officers were on foot and on vehicles when they were attacked.”

“It is unfair for anyone to say we are not visible in town [because] we have casualties to show that we are present,” he said.

He explained that police have to be tactical in their operations against the al-Qaeda-allied group.

“Our visibility was becoming too common and predictable. Under such conditions we are forced to re-adjust, but we are all over,” he said.

He also denied claims that police take too much time responding to reports of security threats.

“We are always quick to arrive to a crime scene. At the same time, we are always careful for secondary attacks since the first incidents have turned out to be a tactic by criminals to launch secondary attacks,” he said.
Unique security challenges in Mandera

Of all the towns in the region, Mandera is closest to the Somalia border.

Mandera County Governor Ali Ibrahim Roba pointed out that while Wajir and Garissa are about 200 kilometres from the border, Mandera is just a few kilometres from Somalia, perched on a triangular intersection of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia.

With no international beacons or demarcations to clearly mark the boundaries, the town of Mandera extends across both borders, with the Ethiopian border town called Suftu and Somalia’s called Bulla Hawa.

As a result, the towns are a melting pot of individuals and groups with diverse interests and intentions, a reality that poses a security headache, Roba said.

He added that because of the free movement of people across the borders for business, security forces are faced with a delicate balancing act.

“The security officers should be commended because besides dealing with the threats of al-Shabaab from Somalia, they have to deal with sporadic inter-clan clashes in Mandera County and spill-over of violence from the Ethiopia side,” Roba told Sabahi.

To help reduce the pressure on security officers, residents are often prevailed upon to co-operate and volunteer information, he said.

“It is a fact that the few security forces we have will not be on every street and corner or home,” Roba said. “So the ordinary citizens are playing their part in helping fostering security for the town and the county in general.”