Saturday, 30 June 2012

communication as panacea to world problems

i was supposed to type this article and send it for an essay competition...but due to laziness and lack of focus i didnt. enjoy...

The more things change, the more they remain the same. When I think of the challenges facing the world right now, this is what comes to mind. Despite the major technological, medical and scientific advances that have been made over the decades, issues of poverty, hunger, environmental degradation and strife remain as pertinent as ever.
How can so much sadness and strife exist in a world of so much plenty? And how can we ensure that we live a future where our kids have longer, happier and more peaceful lives?
There seems to be little consensus, or dialogue among people on how to solve the problems afflicting the world. Ideology, culture and lifestyle choices that greatly differ among people within and among countries have meant that people cannot sit down and talk to one another on how to solve problems facing them.
The first small step that we should take to beginning to make a better world is to try listening to those who hold different religious, political, social and ideological viewpoints. As Friedriche Nietszche famously said, “convictions are worse enemies of the truth than lies.” People must practice acceptance of those who think in vastly different worldviews, and accept that beliefs, while they are important, can promote anger and negative emotions when people try to force others to renounce “weird” lifestyles and ideologies.
People must rise above societal and political prejudices, and be confident in the protection of the rights of the most marginalized, exploited and neglected of the society even if it makes them unpopular and shunned by their peers. The most revolutionary of people in the world, such as Galileo Galilei and Karl Marx stood up against “conventional wisdom” and changed the world forever.
Secondly, the governments, populations of the world and non-state actors must start cooperating with each other on solving challenges that straddle many boundaries and continents. Issues such as global warming, economic shocks and terrorism, as well as disease outbreaks have overwhelmed governments the world over.
It is obvious that people and their governments have to start assisting each other, and cooperating with each other to solve such problems. Humanitarian intervention is just but one example of tough choices that citizens of the world must make to make sure that when people face major challenges that may be natural and man-made disasters, people can be assisted.
Technology is a major engine for growth and change in the world. Through technological advancements, citizens can keep their governments on their toes, interact with others across continents and be exposed to many economic opportunities and markets.
However, technological gap has been growing between those who have access to the internet and facilities mostly found in major cities and those who are illiterate, old and cut off from the rest of the world by geographical, economic and social barriers. Thus, even the major breakthroughs such as the internet, medical advances and infrastructure have not benefitted those who need it most.
We need to ensure more people can benefit from the scientific and technological advances of the world through education, generosity and massive investment in the scientific and technological sectors of the world.
In conclusion, I think we need to talk more to each other, respect and cooperate with each other irrespective on cultural, ideological and religious differences. This should happen across all economic and social strata in the world, because the problems facing our earth are big, complicated and they will require all the cooperation we can get.

Friday, 22 June 2012


it has been so long since i posted a blog. so much has changed since then, Kenya is now grappling with the implementation of the new constitution. i feel that many of us are yet to grasp how much has really changed since august 2010.
power has been dispersed from the presidency and executive to the county governments, judiciary and most importantly, the parliament.
nowhere is this more visible than in the budget making process. whereas in the past, the treasury and finance ministry would allocate funds arbitrarily with token input from parliament, civil society and the public at large, after the new constitution has revolutionized all this.
parliament has a huge say in how finances are allocated, and the budget estimates brought to the house by the minister of finance must be debated, and necessary AMENDMENTS made by legislators which the minister will then have to take into account.
this is done in the following steps (chapter 12 article 221 of the constitution);
  1. the minister brings the budget estimates to the house
  2. the parliament debates this estimates and makes recommendations and necessary amendments
  3. the minister takes this recommendations into account and presents the final budget statement in form of appropriation bill to the floor of the house.
  4. if parliament is satisfied with the statement it adopts it as the appropriations bill and it is taken to president for assent. 

 what has happened is that everything went on hunky dory until step 4. the minister took the recommendations by parliament and ignored them, and on June ? he came with the budget statement that ignored much of the input of the civil society, public and parliament.
he didn't come with the appropriation bill, and on June 22nd 2012, he was in parliament begging parliamentarians to pass a motion to authorize him to withdraw 404 billion Kenya shillings from the consolidated fund so that govt programmes can continue to function
if parliament would have thrown out the motion, government functions would have ground to a complete halt.
imagine all civil servants not being paid, kenyan military in somalia not being funded, embassies, ministries, judiciary etc operations stop just like that.
because of the incompetence/arrogance/disrespect/impunity of the treasury.
this kind of disrespect of the constitution, impunity and law breaking at such an early stage of implementation of the new constitution does not bode well for the future and sets a bad precedent.
in future, when this exploitative, corrupt, bloated and unnecessary coalition government is not there, less friendly opposition parties will not be so indulging.
there will be grandstanding, unwillingness to compromise and partisanship next year at a time like this. the treasury, parliamentarians, civil society and public at large should be very wary of the happenings of June 21st 2012.
instead of focusing on Korean air, Irish ministers, political intrigues and other sideshows, Kenyans should reread, understand the constitution, then we will be able to better hold the executive, parliament and government at large accountable.
next time we might not have such a happy(?) ending.