Weekly Newsletter - Issue No 174
19 February - 25 February, 2018


Of slaves of debt, wastage and extravagance

Last week’s news was awash of a ballooning public debt and risk of our economy being burdened, if Kenya continued with her bad habit of over borrowing. In the last five years since the rise of President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya has had unprecedented level of debt. The debt increase has been caused by the widening budget deficit.

To all concerned citizens, this debt elicits questions. Is our government too ambitious or wasteful? To be prudent is to bite what you can chew, but, is the government putting a heavy burden on Kenyans shoulders? So far, critics of Jubilee government are seated pretty waiting for the public debt to suffocate Kenya’s economy since the government is not taking advice or warnings.

In the history of states, there is no single state that has never relied on debt. Even the strongest of world economies borrow, but, there is a difference between our borrowing and that of other states. We borrow too much money but never see or feel the impact of the loans. Kenyans from far and wide are asking how these loans are spent. Do we borrow to ‘eat’ or invest? Do we have a return on investment so far?

Our Public Finance Management systems ought to be made tighter. Do we have a public debt management office?  It is this office that should be informing Kenyans how much money is borrowed and how it has been invested.

Do you remember the long and sometimes incoherent stories about the Eurobond? Money was borrowed and none can point the projects that were financed by the Eurobond loan. It is a question that shall be asked many years to come. Was the money used on infrastructure or recurrent expenditure? If it was used on recurrent expenditure was that a wise thing for the government to do?

There is a predictable obsession with the Eurobond loans by African governments which fear accountability. One salient thing is that, this type of loan doesn’t come with conditions and therefore governments can use the funds acquired in any way that they deem fit. Could Kenya be sharing the same story? Is that the reason as to why the 2014 Eurobond cannot be ‘accounted’ for, shilling by shilling?

To save Kenya from the huge public debt, the country needs to embrace strategies to enable government to make money locally and carry out a number of austerity measures.

To date Kenya has an imbalanced trade with other countries, we import more than we export. For instance in 2017 we imported goods worth 17.1 billion dollars and only exported goods worth 5.72 billion dollars. This whopping deficit is worrying. We buy a lot and sell too little.

News of the Week

Northern Kenya MPs put up a fight for their children

Members of Parliament from Mandera, Wajir and Garissa Counties want the Teachers Service Commission to unconditionally return all teachers removed from the area and deployed elsewhere immediately. The MPs argue that besides playing into the terrorists plans which is segregating the region, the TSC was denying children in North Eastern their right to education. They now want the President to intervene on the security issue and assure the non-residents working there of their security. The decision by TCS comes after calls by non-resident teachers to be transferred after terrorists attacked the region and killed three teachers.

No new Constituencies or Counties IEBC says as they plan to re-draw boundaries

Concerns that there will be new counties or constituencies following Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) plans to re-draw boundaries have been calmed by the commission chairman, Wafula Chebukati. He also said the exercise will begin after the 2019 population census. He explained categorically that the creation of new counties or constituencies was the prerogative of Parliament and their work will simply be that of aligning the boundaries and that of wards.

NASA and Jubilee leaders split on new Eurobond

Leader of Majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale disagreed with his counter-part and minority leader John Mbadi over the controversial Eurobond worth just a little over Sh.200 billion. The Garissa Township MP argued the country’s GDP to debt ratio showed Kenya was capable of paying its loans. A position contradicted by the opposition. The Suba South MP questioned Jubilee’s appetite for loans going as far as saying the government was borrowing money without identifying what the money was going to do loan in another Eurobond that’s left many Kenyans worried considering the lack of clarity in the previous Eurobond worth Sh. 275 bullion. The country’s total loans nears Sh. 5 trillion and IMF has sounded an alarm over the appetite for borrowing.


Raila oath the straw that broke the camel’s back in Nasa

Opposition coalition NASA appears to be disintegrating following the mock swearing-in of the Nasa flag bearer Raila Odinga and the skipping of the same by his co-principals. Media reports indicate ODM MPs are putting pressure on Raila Odinga to break links with Nasa and focus on strengthening ODM over what they term betrayal from the other principals. Wiper Party is also threatening to go it alone after their leader Kalonzo Musyoka was taunted by Nasa supporters following his failure to attend the much anticipated swearing-in. Top Wiper leaders including the outspoken Johnstone Muthama have expressed anger over the bashing of their party leader and appear willing to server the links. Mudavadi’s ANC is also facing a crisis moment after some of its MPs have openly accused their party leader of cowardice and Mudavadi is not taking it lying down. Will the coalition stand the test or disintegrate and each face 2022 on their own?


Quote of the Week

"Jubilee has not at any one time met to discuss the proposed Bill and if that was to happen we shall communicate loud and clear..."

Quote by National Assembly Majority Leader, Hon. Aden Duale to disabuse the notion that the Bill prepared by Hon. Kassait recommending a radical change in government structure was a Jubilee Bill. Statement made on February 28, 2018

Lest we forget

"Unfortunately, the collaborators founded this nation. That is why we mortgage the spirit of freedom in this country."

Sentiments by former Mombasa Senator Hassan Omar when debating the motion on appointment of Senators to the select committee to spearhead the processing of the general suggestion for the draft Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) bill, 2015 on May 4, 2016.

Read the Hansard

Newsmaker this Week

Kitui Governor, Charity Ngilu made headlines this week after the National Commission and Integration Commission (NCIC) summoned her over incitement remarks. In an effort to end illegal charcoal in her county the governor had asked the residents of Kitui county to help keep vigil over the sand harvesting and illegal charcoal business in the county. Those remarks were taken to heart by aggressive constituents who have since torched down a lorry that was ferrying charcoal and recently intercepted another carrying 100bags of charcoal, offloaded it and put it on fire much to the chagrin of Kiambu businessmen who feel targeted. To that end a protest lasting hours was staged on the Nairobi-Naivasha highway where demonstrators deflated tyres of at least 100 vehicles completely paralyzing the busy road in a bid to get the governor arrested over her remarks. The governor nonetheless explained to the commission that she was not targeting a certain community but rather preserving the ecosystem of her county and concerned about the tree cover.


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Mzalendo Trust, Heinrich Boll Foundation,
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P. O. Box 21765 00505 Nairobi, Kenya

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