Saturday, September 17, 2011

CMC: clear the fog

It is said in war, the first casualty is truth/facts.
These are gaps in the information:
  1. Peter Muthoka was selected chair in May and the BoD had all the information they have today, why didn't the conflict of interest issue arise then?
  2. Why did Bill Lay announce he was retiring from GM whilst denying he was doing so to fill the vacancy at CMC? Why did he jump from a big player to a smaller player (in market share terms)?
  3. If the apparent fraud is over-invoicing, why isn't the ex-FD and ex-CEO also in the dock here given that it is the responsibility of the payer to verify the invoice? Why isn't the auditor also in the dock since this would be part of its attestation?
  4. If the fraud is charging above what other players in the market (say GM) are charged, (a) that is not fraud (b) his contract would presumably have been verified by the BoD (which has included among other Joel Kibe)...
  5. Andy Forwarders (Peter Muthoka's business) also manages GM's supply chain and those of others, why would he charge CMC more? AFS has been supplying CMC for 17 years, why is the issue limited to 5 years?
  6. If as rumoured, Peter Muthoka was opposed to Bill Lay's appointment, is this merely the continuation of boardroom wars.
  7. If corporate governance is the issue, why not go all the way and require BoD to be composed of more independent directors instead of shareholders as it now is (with exception of the banks)?
CMC-a brief history:
Cooper Motor Co. started life as a retail outlet for Land Rovers/VW during the wabeberu days and today pretty much covers the whole upper class, settled middle class. During the Africanisation programme of the 1970s, it got some of the newly minted Kenyans on-board. In effect most of the plutocracy formed themselves into two chamas, Heri and Africa Liaison Company (Mwai and Moi were members as well as Njonjo). Overtime, Alico birthed other smaller entities among them Kingsway Nominees (which now know more as a Jeremiah Kiereni front). As with TCL today, the primary purpose of these chamas was to amass solid businesses such as CFC and CMC and also create some such as Heritage Insurance and so forth. Apart from their "financial nous", these elite gave their invesmens direct access to contracts. They'd then hire competent managers (usually a mzungu or mhindi) to manage the turnover and do the counting. Martin Foster joined as a Sales Director in 1978 stayed on and became CEO 8 years later and was virtually there until this year. The BoD effectively the bedrock on which Forster was pure old boys. Up until two or so years ago, everybody was over 60yrs.
However, over the last few years, they have all reduced their shareholding allowing the likes of Mobicom, Peter Muthoka to takeover the reigns and its apparent that this is a battle for who between Mobicom and Peter will control CMC. CMC currently holds just under 20% of motor sector market share behind Toyota and GM.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Simple guide to NSE's latest IPOs

Firstly an analogy. I tend to compare IPOs to a ball being thrown in a pool of water. Generally, the deep the pool of water, the higher a ball bounces off the water. Assuming it’s a fully pressurized ball.

TC formerly known as G29. This entity inspired me to start an investment group and I believe the harambee spirit embedded in chamas will get us further than we have envisaged. At a listing p/e of 35 you can see why it was introduced despite requiring capital. In contrast, Centum, the other investing firm at the NSE traded a multiple of 10.3. the other downside of TC is a portfolio of underwhelming assets with only EA Cables as the pick stock. Verdict: terribly overpriced.

Britak is a firm I’ve long tried to figure out how to buy pre-IPO shares in, but the IPO is where my interest ended. Normally, insurance firms have very steady income unless there are catastrophic one-off events such as earthquakes or PEV in our case. Britak made losses in 2009, record profits in 2010 and is projecting 62% drop in profitability for 2011. Can Britak do better with your money than it has done with its own? It would like to take circa Ksh0.6bn from you. Verdict: fully priced, there is no meat remaining on the bone.

Finally, in the forthcoming bucket, there is Family Bank’s introduction to the NSE. Many of its shareholders including this senor think this is Family bank’s theme tune “we’ll list this year, we’ll list this year”. We will believe it when we see it. It is said that imitation is the sheerest form of flattery and Family bank has really really flattered Equity. The Japanese copied the US, forgot their prudence and their economy became a zombie, so cautionary tale right there. In commerce, you must chart your own way, though. That won’t happen at Family unless Kiondo is persuaded to retire and either give his son (he of the thin CV), the reins or reduce his attachment to the bank and let corporate governance take root hold without a gun being stuck into his ribs by CBK. Corporate governance would mean a strong CEO shepherded by strong anchor shareholders (maybe Equity?). Facts, facts. Kiondo opened the door in 1984, Munga in 1984. The both target the same market. In 2010, Family's PBT was a 1/20th that of Equity! Verdict: introduction will excite, but do note that it will be the least profitable bank at ze bourse.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

NSE: Observe its cycle

With the exception of the pre-multiparty years and the first Baba Jimmy era (as an aside I'm totally convinved that Baby Jimmy was told he'd be the 1st president never to have done 2 terms and he ahd to do 2 terms irrespective hence PEV), the NSE has always follows the same pattern. As soon as a General Election is concluded, investors of every hue and persuasion flood in. For the next 4 years and despite several ups, the NSE index maintains an upward trajectory. Then investors and their volumes flee the market in the year of general election.

Why is this and why was 2002-7 period the exception?

Quite simply because, despite a 40m population (60% barely plugged into the economy), we still eat, walk and sleep politics. In Kenya, good politics=good economy and not vice versa as you'd find in most developed countries. In 2007, Kenyans thought it'd be a walkover for Raila and as such everybody kept their money in the NSE or were too pre-occupied with the NSE bullrun.
Given PEV at the start of this 2008-12 political term and consequent political; the ongoing rain short-fall; the out of his depth CBK governor; relatively high oil prices, cycle will be followed to the t.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Charterhouse gate- Peter Odhiambo another unsung Kenyan hero

If it wasn't for Peter Odhiambo, Charterhouse, moneylaunderer's bank would never have been closed back in 2006. If it wasn't for Peter Odhiambo, Harun Mwau, the drug KingPin would never have been recognised by the US of A for his efforts in distribution of illicit drugs.
If it wasn't for Peter Odhiambo, this article won't have been as revealing of our misunderstanding about white collar crime.
Today lets salute Peter Odhiambo, an unsung Kenyan hero. Hope Kenyans like him can day one resume their job of grwoing and building the nation without fear or favor.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

145 acres at Maili Tisa for sale

145 of freehold land is available for sale at Maili Tisa which is 2km from Namanga. The price is Ksh100,000 per acre. The owner doesn't want to subdivide but he is willing to sell to a group who can then subdivide among themselves. I am therefore looking for individuals who like me, are looking to get very good land at prices that is increasingly unheard of in Kenya.

You can use the land for dairy farming; wheat farming; tourist cottages or for speculative purposes as land become scarcer resource in demand.

Please email if you are interested ideally stating how many acres you are interested in.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Actions taken between 30-40yrs determine grandchildren's heritage

Between 30-40yrs, most of us will have decided what we want to do with the rest of our lives based on skills an experience acquired; opportunities available and so forth. Most will have chosen their spouse and will either buy or build their first home as well as have children.
Economically, its the ideal decade to acquire assets that will set you in good stead when you retire. It is also the decade to set up businesses that may grow to be future NSE new kid on the block.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

100% mortgages in Kenya.1st signal of the real estate buble

Firstly, a 100% mortgage is when a bank lends you 100% of the mortgage loan you require. Usually, the mortgage loan will be pegged on the value of the property you are buying. In essence, the bank is betting that the property you are buying will rise in value so that should you default on the mortgage, it can realise the full value of the loan.
The bank has now become a property speculator rather than a keeper of your deposits.

Not clever banking and is a big part of the why the West has just had a huge credit crisis.

Hope Ndu'ng'u at CBK will slow down his policy of being supportive of the banking sector and "take away the punch bowl" (to quote Mervyn King) before banks/Kenyan economy binges on lofty credit.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Replace foreign aid with economic migrant quotas

Remittances are now the largest foreign exchange earner in many developing countries. Fact.
So-called advanced economies are currently undergoing their most challenging economic times. Fact.
There is an ongoing, racial-tinged and tortured debate on how to tackle illegal immigration in the West.
Hopefully you can see the link I am drawing out.The west and other advanced economies are currently seeking to reduice their leverage by either government expenditure and or raising taxes where they can. To do so, they are seeking to cut back on ineffecient expenditures. As accurately described by Dambisa Moyo and others, there is none more inefficient than foreign aid to developing countries.
In almost all nations, immigrants to the West/advanced economies whether legal or illegal pay their way. That is they work, pay taxes and proportionately don't make use of public services more than the locals. Crucially, they send a significant portion of their income to their mother countries and so fulfil the trickle-down effect that most of the foreign aid is supposed to do. Simple really, the money they remit is reaches the hands of those is rural areas and even in slums.

The West can and should cut ineffective foreign aid/loans to developing countries and should replace it with smart programmes that allow graduates from developing nations to work for 2/3 years in developed countries. It is not an original idea. The UK has a discriminatory policy in place that gives 2 year working visa to all New Zealanders/Australians and South Africans (white) of under 30yrs of age.

Monday, March 28, 2011

2012 to do : vote in MPs can't be bought

Something like 70% of MPs lost their seats in 2007. Kenyan voters can do change. Despite the high turnover, most of the current crop of MPs belong to a godfather. Most (95%) belong to these godfathers because they've been bought. Tenders for those who had cash in 2007; range rovers and runda homesteads for those who were poor in 2007. Their first call every morning is "mheshimiwa unaenda wapi leo?". This is corrosive behaviour because its difficult to build democracy and infact leads to the tribal politics we now have. There are ways we voters can spot and enable better leadership.
  • Stop supporting non-ideological parties: Easier said than done, but we must look for MPs and parties that will support a pure development agenda.
  • Party/candidate funding: Question or seek to understand how the political party is being funded. Looking at the big financial hitters in the 2007 general election, one could tell who was going to play the piper.
  • Stop demanding or accepting cash or other handouts: As soon as that MP candidate pays you, he has to be compensated and compensated profitably. His first priority as an MP will be to seeks ministerial post where he can eat. Failing that, they'll fall prey to a godfather.
  • Pre-general election wealth declaration: If candidates had to declare wealth as part of their election manifesto, it may weed out pharmacists and the like.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The 30 motorcade country-a sign of...

Imagine Maembe is a younger relative of yours say by 10yrs. Like you, Maembe grew up in the village, poor with no shoes until he started secondary. He is/was bright and hence managed to get into a good high school. And there the similarities with you end.
By the time Maembe reached high school, you had finished campus (through many many harambees that started from the day you were called to Alliance) and had a fairly good job. You thus financed him all the way thru to Nairobi campus where he graduated with a good degree. Enough to enable him to get a decent private sector job.
With money to burn, Maembe seems to have taken a turn. Because of the condition of the roads in chagiis where his parents still reside, he owns a Range Rover sport, which is pretty top range. Recently, you received a call at 5.30pm telling asking you if you could buy him a spare tyre as his had punctured huko ushago. He lives in a servant quarter on Mucai drive (off Ngong Road). One drunken evening, you get a call at 2am. Maembe got into a heated discussion with his neighbour who also happens to be his landlord. The resultant uppercut has landed him at Kilimani where the negotiations are at ksh150k for him to walk scot free. Naturally his thoughts turned to his well off rela. He will of course need somewhere to stay while he looks for new digs. Maembe being of marriageable age has found himself a marriageable lady. Good. The lady hails from Kabete. Bad. Dowry is paid over generations. In keeping up with his neighbours, his church colleagues at Nairobi Baptist, Maembe will occasionally call you from Malindi, Mombasa and even Zanzibar telling you how well the weekend is going down there with Kabete gf, why don't you take easy and join him with your missus.
Because of his non-frugal ways, Maembe has several credit cards and is offcourse still paying for the RR sport. You are starting to despair, but then one Satu, Maembe invites you for ride in RR sport saying he has something he wants to show you. He drives you to Kiserian and shows you a 1/2 acre plot he has found. Yippee! You can't hide your joy at his discovered sense. He is there rub, Maembe tells you that because of his upcoming preparations for nuptials, he'll be needing all the savings he can get. Lakini this plot is going for a good price. You make a deal with him, he'll find the deposit, you'll then lend him half the remaining money and give him the rest. He agrees to this, but later calls you to ask if you can lend him the rest as well.
That in nutshell is where we Kenyans are today. We have a president who travels in 30-car motorcade compared to say 10 for Obama (3 for David Cameron). He earns Ksh36m per year, twice as much as the UK PM. And we have a GDP per capita of $315. Something like a 100 times less than the UK. When will we get a reality check.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kenya real estate: do we have a bubble?

A bubble is created when you have air in a liquid. Likewise a real estate bubble is created when prices are full of air. In simple terms, real income can't afford prices. A real estate bubble will always be driven by too much cash and not enough investing avenues.
Real estate in Kenya is class based. That is to say they are areas such as Muthaiga, maybe Karen, Runda, Kitsuru which are reserved for the upper class; NGOs; pirates; and other criminals and money launderers. These areas operate very tight demand and supply markets that keep prices not only from falling but rarely falling bar a catstrophe such as PEV. These are found in almost every large city. A bubble is rare here.

The settled middle class areas are Kileleshwa, Kilimani and many others. This market is aspirational, and in essence that is the issue. When you hear a 3bed apartment going for Ksh17m, ask yourself how many well paid Kenyans can afford a mortgage on that at around 14% interest rate. Answer, its Ksh200k per month assuming Ksh5m deposit on the apartment. This implies monthly income of Ksh500k before tax. Ho many Kenyans are on that kind of salary? Hence a bubble almost certainly exists in this market. The bigger worry is which banks are giving mortgages into this sector.
The lower middle class areas are increasingly get drawn into the squeeze with concomitantly higher rents...
to be continued...

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Small scale farming: From subsistence to sustainable business

Despite, our economic progress, agriculture is still the source of livelihood for majority of Kenyans. It is still the largest employer as an industry. If Kenya is to progress economically and equitably we must become more productive and agile farmers. There has never been a better time to be a farmer, but there has never been a more difficult time to do so.
  • Knowledge is power: In Kieni West is a bit like Ukambani in that when it rains, it rains well and when it doesn't, it dries up badly. Despite this, farmers have taken on horticulture with a gusto not seen for a while. Farmers tend to have sizeable holdings i.e. 20+ acres so its not unusual to see a farmer with 1 acre under onions or green beans. The flaw is that these are rain dependant products at the initial stage. More often than not, many get burned financially if it doesn't rain as the quality of the crop is very dependant on this initial rain. If farmers had access to good weather forecasting information, they could avoid planting at certain times. There is also the whole issue of diversify your risk.
  • Government services: In the old days, farmers had access to agriculture officers who advised on the best variety of seeds to plant; they had access to veterinary services so that if you were a daily farmer, you could get insemination services and treatment services at small cost. Rather than running around trying to save very rich individuals from the ICC, GoK could quite cheaply have a veterinary officer in every county in Kenya.
  • KARI's role: For years, its been my understanding that KARI has developed drought resistant variety of seeds. I am therefore pained when I see farmers lose their maize or potatoes because it hasn't rained enough.
  • Commercialising farming: For many farmers, they have yet to move from farming to eat to farming to sell some of their produce. Farmers are better at animal husbandry that your urbanite who wishes to keep hens for sale, yet they are not involved in this business.

Friday, March 04, 2011

wikileaks: Kibaki knows Ruto was behind RV violence

A lot of what wikileaks has revealed so far has not come as much of a surprise.
We all knew Wambui facilitated the Artur brothers coming to Kenya. We all knew she and Joho were trafficking drugs at the coast and involved in a lot of other corrupt stuff at the Port. We all knew Kalonzo Musyoka was an opportunist per excellence. We knew Kibaki didn't really want to get rid of Murungaru as he helped do most of the dirty fundrasiing in the 2002 political campaign. We knew that a lot of the Kikuyu elite what very unpalatable views about Raila and the Luo community in general.

The crucial evidence that we've been waiting is for someone high up in GoK to calim knowledge or evidence of who was involved in PEV and especially in RV. On January 21st 2008, yani during the violence itself, Kibaki met Ranenberger. In what I consider the most revelatory piece in wikileaks so far Kibaki revealed "that William Ruto, one of the members of the ODM,s "pentagon" leadership, is largely responsible for continuing violence in Rift Valley." .

In essence, the man they've all been trying to get off the Hague train should actually be reserved a first class seat on the train!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

How greenbelt zoning can save Kenya's arable land

The future of Nairobi conurbation looks like that map that Mutula Kilonzo tried to pull off but didn't manage. Everybody is in a hurry to extend Nai's reach to Thika, Kiambu, Machakos and Kajiado.
In the process, some of Kenya's most food productive land not to mention aesthetically please landscapes will disappear for good. The whiners will no doubt be wheeled to talk about GoK not responding quickly enough to flooding, droughts et al. The time to act is now before our food insecurity becomes acute driven by lack of enough arable land.

A greenbelt zoning does what it says on the tin. It puts a belt around designated green areas so as to protect them from planned (or in our case unplanned) buildings. In my humble opinion, Kiambu is a rich agriculture district that should be designated a green belt zone so that crop production can continue in the area. On the other hand, places like Karen should be opened up for further building.

Good economics is good politics, bad politics is bad economics

It can be said that Kenya's economy has grown the last 9 or so years. It can be said that Kenya has not known the kind of political we've had in the last 9 years.
But the economic growth has widened the gap between the "haves" and the "have nots". Secondly, it has not been a "jobs" growth whereby, the economy was absorbing jobless graduate, secondary leavers and of course KCPE-leavers. At an average of 4.5%, this means that once you take off the effect of 2.3% population growth, it has grown at a paltry 2.2%. Good enough for the West economies, not for a developing nation. The growth has also not been sustainable. With the exception of the telecom industry, other sectors remain dependant on exogenous factors (agriculture, tourism among our largest fx earners); in others such as manufacturing and infrastructure building, we are still dependant on foreign money or investment.

It has also been growth that has seen concomitant growth in corruption. It has not been felt by the majority of Kenyans in a positive way. Negatively yes because now staple foods and basic necessities are more expensive, but earnings have not kept up. Pour into the mix a very young population and really the growth looks anything but stellar.

Kibaki doesn't do politics. Politics is not just about being able to take smart political decisions, but also more importantly, being able to take the public pulse into on major decisions.
On both fronts, we are not giving ourselves the chance to grow.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Investing with 2012 general election in mind

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same over and over again and expecting a different results.

Prior to the 2007 general election, I argued here and elsewhere that Kenyans must ignore politics and effectively decouple it from business for our economy to flourish. I still urge us to do and the need to do so is even more urgent today. It saddens me when you see a whole mashinani town come to a standstill for a whole day when well-fed politicians land in their helicopters.

In part, my drive was because I used to think Kenyan siasa and had small if any effect and in any case this would be temporary. PEV and its after effects disabused me of this notion.

Politics does have a serious impact on the way your investments will turnout and you have to bear this in mind when investing. And the risk is higher the more liquid your investment is.

So real estate will be risky to extent there is a repeat of PEV because certain areas will become no go zones. Cosmopolitan towns like Nai, Mombasa and Nak will benefit on the other hand. Any slight hint of discord will send NSE investors scurrying into bonds, saving accounts and other frontier markets if they are foreign investors. IN which case, an investor will want to stay in stocks that show low volatility but give fair income (say 4%+ dividend yield). Alternatively, one can focus on being liquid to take advantage of volatile shares. As of now, I am looking at shares with that are either illiquid or have small floats in the NSE and either give good income or are more affected by other factors other than politics. Examples being Carbacid; EABL; Eagaads.

So what is the likelihood of discord or even PEV in 2012? The signs are not promising. The Ocampo announcement gave Kenyans hope that VIPs who had been able to escape the law would finbally be getting some law on their heads. It was to be a huge step forward in quashing impunity. Somebody would finally be held accountable for PEV. The new Katiba gave Kenyans hope that we'd henceforth start doing things legally, but also with goodwill.

Alas, Mwai Kibaki has other ideas. The first appointments under the new katiba for AG, DPP and CJ have be done with the utado attitude thaat we expect from Kibaki and since he has the numbers in bunge, the 3 will go thru. The appointments are not dissimilar to those of the ECK commissioners in early and late 2007 that effectively created the environment for the rejection of the 2007 ge results. The political elite don't suffer from the consequences of their actions and hence will never learn. There is no excuse for us investors.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Kenya Real Estate for beginners - Plots/Land

It’s never too early to buy a plot for your own future home or for investment purposes.

Do your due diligence

1. Check in your proposed location of purchase for amenities that you require

a. Electricity

b. Water

c. Nearness to tarmac road/main road or river if for farming

d. Any proposed developments

e. Any past or present issues with land ownership such as reserves, demolitions, forest land

f. talk to neighbours understand if any issues over land

g. confirm pricing either via Nation’s Thursday property guide or visiting nearby shopping centre

h. above all, visit the plot/land you intend to buy wherever possible.

2. Paperwork

Get the owner to show you the title deed. Note the title deed number and the size of plot/land. Note that 1 hectare 2.47 acres. ¼ acre is therefore 0.24 hectares. Note that some surveyors can and do understate acreage

Take a photocopy of the title deed and take the same to the local district land registry where you will pay Ksh500 for a search. The search is a land registry document that confirms if there are any caveats from bank, other buyers or relatives.

There are occasions when owner may legitimately not have a title deed. The only legitimate reason is inherited plot/land. Certificates are tricky because there is a trade off between legit certificates that can easily be converted to title deeds and certificates of ownership that are in perpetuity

It favours you often to have a sale agreement that has the legal back up. If you are buying plot/land worth Ksh1m plus, the lawyer costs can to around 30-40k. I think it is worth it.

You will need original and copies of your ID, KRA PIN (which you can no longer obtain without an ID). You will also need 4 passport photos from buyer and seller.

Don’t bribe to get paperwork processed faster. For example special land boards will usually come back to bite you. Most land offices have the terms of service prominently displayed on the counter and its worth reminding them.

vii. Copy of owner's title deed->search->sale agreement->transfer->land board consent->stamp duty->your title deed

Pricing: Kenyans today know the worth of their land. No seller will overprice you if you make them a reasonable offer. Cash is king and if you have it, it opens doors to very reasonable price offers. As an example, most people nowadays do 10% deposit and remainder in 3 months. If you go to the seller 10% now and remainder in a month provided they drop price, it leads to a different outcome. It’s also possible to go to the same seller and offer 50% now and remainder in 6 months and they’ll favour you because of the cashflow aspect of a deal. Pointing aspects that please you and those that don’t while pointing out favourable payment terms will get the price down too.

Related costs: Stamp duty on plot/land is 2% in rural areas and 4% in urban areas. That is % of buying price or Lands’ valuation whichever is higher. Where land requires surveyor beacons, you need to add another Ksh10k though you should get the seller to these on. The costs of changing the documents tend to be around 3-4k. If you get a sale agreement, you’ll find most sellers don’t really care either way and you bear the cost 100%. All in all, these related costs will be between 3-6%.

Caveats: There is caveat emptor. You also place a caveat with Land registry if you are putting down a deposit and paying remainder much later or you fear somebody may attempt to sell your plot/land especially if you are in diaspora.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Please support the "Yes to ICC, no taxpayer money for ICC culprits" petition

Many of us lead busy lives. Many of us can't afford to march on streets of Nai or elsewhere against impunity. Surely, we can however sign the 1 million petion( in support of the ICC process and to say no to continued impunity in usage of our taxes.

Many of us are afraid to take a stand lest will be laughed at; injured by no brain kalaus; fired from our jobs; ostracised by fellow tribesmen.

Lakini today, we are faced by "manifest nonsense" of a different level. If you drive through the Nai-Eldoret road, you'll note that we still have active IDP camps. Kenyans like you and me who happened to be in their own homes were thrown out by impunity as a response to impunity. Many other Kenyans lost loved ones because of trigger happy cops given permission to let loose. And then we are being told that taxpayers money will be used to defend the drivers behind this PEV. I think we can agree, this is not a good idea.

1 million signatures are significant today in Kenya because its the number required to amend the new Katiba.

Did Raila create a frankenstein monster that will destroy him?

In the 2007 general election, Raila successfully campaigned on a platform of overt tribalism. Let’s be clear at the outset. Tribalism has plagued Kenyan since independence Kenyatta practised it; m-0-1 improved on the practice, Kibaki reverted to the Kenyatta practice and so forth. The first two presidents dealt with tribalism by dictatorship. Kibz on the other hand allowed democracy to flourish in country that is not yet a nation, but made the mistake of perpetuating past tribal practices. The difference is that democracy is a competitive where you gain voters by creating an ogre out of your opponent. So in the US, you call Obama a communist and a Muslim; in the UK, you used to anoint your opponent as a tax and spend Welshman with character flaws. They do however, campaign on issues pertinent to voters. If it was an issues based campaign, the 2007 ge would have been very close as I then alluded to.

Once the no campaign closed out the 2005 constitution with a convincing, Raila then moved on to create his 5 pillars effectively channelling tribal kings in each of the bigger tribes sans the Kikuyus. The campaign was successful in that he run Kibz to the finishing line. Unfortunately for him and us Kenyans, the general election campaign legitimised the no-issues, no-ideology way of campaigning. This was replaced with the tribal mathematics game whereby the most intense part of the campaign is spent in looking or creating tribal kingpins who can deliver a good number of votes.

Today, his protégé Rutovic is looking to copy and paste the same trick. He has already created his ogre, "Raila the betrayer", the next step is then to find kingpins with likeminds but with numbers and finally cobble up some bull to feed voters. There will also be subtle digs against "the people from the lake".

My hope is that this time round, Mzalendo Kibunja and his colleagues at the National Cohesion will step in to nip this nonsense on the bud before it steps us up for another PEV.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Kenya in early 2011

  • The economy is growing once more at an amazing speed. Growth is not as uneven as some would have you believe. You can see progress in as devise places as Nai with multi-estates coming up every year; Kisumu with electricity even in such outposts as Sengho on the Nandi/Muhoroni border; Nanyuki with its expansion towards Naromoru and Timau; even Diani is seeing some huge real estate growth as people wake up to the huge potential of South coast. Its not just real estate growth. Businesses as diverse as greenhouse farming to new hotels are seeing good and sustained business growth. However, we are still too dependent on good weather for continued economic growth.
  • Kibaki is road builder per excellente. The only that will thing stop you from doing Nai to Eldoret in under 3 hours is that you may pass on since Kenyans can't drive safely at speed and of course a few bits of new tarmac ruined by overweight trucks. Yes, Kisumu to Kakamega remains neglected still, but I can safely say it is one of the few bits of bad road I encountered in a tour that took in some 2-3,000 kms of roads
  • Corruption remains big and bold issue: I was asked for bribes a record 4 times in one holiday. Imagine the I land at JKIA, as I pass through the obligatory custom check and after the usual queries about what I am carrying, the custom guy asks for my passport. As soon as he saw my name, the conversation was surreal. The customer guy to his colleague who was about to inspect my wife's cases "we, hawa wako pamoja, wacha waende". Then he turns to me in kiuk and says "Maina, what you'll do is buy 3 beers" then to a kalau standing by. "Wewe enda na huyu atakupatia pombe tatu". The custom guy is obviously from the Sonko school i.e. not too bright. As soon as I get outside and I am there with waiting family, the cop is prodding me on the back ati "si ulete pombe tatu". I just said loudly, "unataka ni kuhonge". And he practically ran-off. Corruption is now seen especially in mashinani as the only way to get service when you encounter public servants. This has in effect created a real problem in tackling the issue because the giver and taker of bribes almost think alike. Lakini if you pay taxes, and still pay bribes, its like paying your worker a salary and then bribing him to do a task for you.
  • There is a now a huge political disunity among Kenyans which poses questions about 2012. Many uniformly agree that our politicians are a problem and sow the seeds of disharmony and yet when they are asked to, they'll back their tribesmen without questions. The Ocampo announcement day was very instructive in this respect. Before and immediately the announcement was made, Kenyans almost to a man were agreed that the guilty must carry their crosses, that Ocampo and the ICC were impartial and that Kenyans would not support impunity. In contrast, the first MP to be questioned about it, said "Ocampo has totally failed, he has targeted Nandis". Two things wrong with this, firstly, there was no challenge from the Citizen reporter since the 6 also include 2 gema and one somali. Secondly, even other politicians who came after were similarly one-eyed. By the end of the week, you would hear similar views from mashinani guys.