By Prof. Gitile Naituli
Our country is in a state of national peril as the government embarks on an orgy of auctioning state corporations and national assets. Strategic public assets such as Kenyatta International Conference Centre are part of invaluable national heritage upon which no monitary value can be attached. The architectural as well as the historical value of KICC occupies a place of pride in the hearts and minds of kenyans. As such, selling it by a whiff of executive fiat, even if rubber stamped by compromised parliamentary approval, the sale betrays despicable contempt with which the KK government is treating Kenyans.
During the Moi era, Kanu, the powerful ruling party had stolen KICC and turned it into a party asset. The architectural landmark was rescued from kanu by Mwai Kibaki through one of his very first executive orders. Now, the building is being auctioned in broad daylight without even a pretence to public participation.

KKs auction bell has not spared other important parastatals like Kenya Pipeline, Kenya Seed Company, National Oil Corporation, Western Kenya Rice Miller’s Ltd, Mwea Rice Miller’s Ltd, Kenya Cooperative Creameries, Numerical Machining Complex, Rivatex East Africa Ltd, Kenya Literature Bureau and Kenya Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Ltd.

A closer look at the above parastatals will tell you the reason why they have always and must always be in the hands of the Kenyan people.
Their strategic value lies in the significant role they play as factors of production, offering support to key sectors such as agriculture and industry, control of economy, national security as well as employment. The raid on the parastatals, in my view is treasonous and a representation of a catastrophic mindset. The KK government came to power promising to turn around the economy and create jobs for the thousands of unemployed youth. How do you create jobs when you clearly cannot add value to existing assets?Why are we wrapping up things as if we are migrating from Kenya? They say that the price for democracy is eternal vigilance. It’s time for men and women of good conscience to rise up and challenge the auction in court and through other avenues provided by our laws and the constitution.

Unfortunately, the raid on parastatals is happening behind the curtains of “national dialogue” whose recommendations I find largely repugnant to justice and collective national interests. The craziest of recommendations is increasing the term of the senate from five to seven years! Among all the institutions created by the constitution, the senate is probably the most idle, needless and useless. Instead of extending its tenure and bribing senators with the so-called oversight funds, we should be thinking of scrapping it and transferring its functions to the national assembly.
The National Dialogue Committee recommendations represent nothing more than a cavalier elitist truce to calm waters of agitation as they share the spoils. Last year’s general election was very costly to both sides. There was a collision of two bloated senses of entitlement who battled for the prize. One entitlement to power was based on the grievance of exclusion from the government, while the other was based on incumbency and historical title.
By creating offices for the big boys, the collision has cunningly evolved into an elite collusion around the feeding trough. It’s all about power, privileges and price. The holloi polloi who died in riots believing the battle was about lowering the cost of living were mere collateral damage in a war between entitlements. The same way collision became collusion, is the same manner the collusion will mutate into a coalition of entitlements that will be hunting together in pursuit of self interest under cover of fake national unity.
Raiding the constitution in order to entrench the desires of the entitlements through the office of Prime Cabinet Secretary and an iteration of the leader of official opposition is an obscene aristocratic arrogance. To gather broader support, the collusion has offered an irresistible inducement to senators and MCAs in the form of oversight funds and ward development funds respectively. In an attempt to co-opt governors’ support, the entitlements have promised a constitutional lie of putting 20% as the minimum county allocation. They are playing blind to the fact that the constitution has not set an upper limit. The constitution has left the upper limit open precisely to prevent the need to amend the relevant Article. It’s assumed that financial matters require a scientific approach as opposed to populist shenanigans.
We may soon be taken through another round of deceptive dialogue about the just concluded dialogue. It’s a deliberate vicious cycle for national distraction from the real challenges affecting the Kenyan people.
There is something I don’t seem to understand. The government takes public land in a county, and gives it to a private developer for free to build affordable housing. The developer then sells or rents out those houses. How does the public from that county stand to benefit from this land which was initially theirs, but has now been privatized? Isn’t this institutionalizing land grabbing?
Prof Gitile Naituli is former Commissioner NCIC and lecturer, Multimedia University



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