Thought and Ideas
Kadaga can’t handle the fire, bans journalists
Posted Sunday, February 3 2013 at 02:00
Most public figures like journalists only when they are writing good things about them. However, should the tide change and the journalists start saying stuff about them they don’t like, asking uncomfortable questions and, basically, being independent, they then rise up in arms. In Parliament Speaker Rebecca Kadaga’s case, she took the thin-skinned and heavy-handed decision to ban two journalists from Parliament because, relying on sources within the House, they wrote a story about her that unsettled her.
One of the “unsettling” things the two journalists wrote about is what some of us have been wondering about all along: Ms Kadaga’s absence whenever a contentious issue, something that would test her (false) reputation for independence, is to be voted upon. They claimed that she makes sure her deputy handles the vote because not very many people expect him to be impartial. They also said that this “arrangement” was tested recently when she decided to dismiss a petition that sought to recall Parliament so it could debate escalated Executive belligerence.
Long story cut short, Ms Kadaga then took the rash, and some say unconstitutional, decision to ban the two reporters from the House. She could have pressed the media house for a clarification or, like they always do else where, sued it. Instead she decided to ‘take the law into her hands’.
NRM MPs broach high govt costs
Among the resolutions reached at during the NRM party’s retreat at Kyankwanzi two weeks ago was that the government should end what delegates called “medical tourism”: the practice of sending regime cronies and sycophants abroad for medical treatment. However, the reasons why they are suddenly very concerned about this should reveal their priorities: the resolution says it is because of “the high costs involved.”
Apparently, during the 2011 general elections one of the issues in the NRM’s manifesto was cutting costs, and spending Shs390 billion annually on treating spineless geriatrics flies in the face of this. So, somehow, it has to be stopped. In the noncommittal talk of politicians, the NRM “party has every commitment to ensure that these resolutions are progressed and implemented.”
This can only be dealt with in two ways, assuming they are serious about ending it (I don’t think they are): either bringing local health facilities to standard, or making sure that ministers and daughters of politicians meet their own medical bills if they think our hospitals are beneath them. The first requires resolute and systematic leadership, which is absent. The second: well, good luck on that.
Still, the NRM wants to cut costs? How will they be elected back into power if they can’t create new districts or oil their vast patronage?
Kenya presidential polls kick off with eight candidates
Eight presidential candidates were this week cleared to contest in Kenya’s general elections slated for March 4.
The two frontrunners are the Prime Minister, Raila Odinga, and his deputy, Uhuru Kenyatta, who will be contesting on the Restoration of Democracy (CORD) and Jubilee Coalition tickets respectively. It’s a sign of Kenya’s confusing political landscape, at least to outsiders, that these two gentlemen both belonged to different coalitions/political parties a few years ago. Still, especially if you’re Ugandan, that they have a functioning democracy and a president (Mwai Kibaki) who is leaving power is something to envy.
The problem is that few are expecting the elections to proceed peacefully. In 2007 that led to chaos in which lives were lost, with a few high profile politicians – Uhuru Kenyatta, for example – later being indicted by the International Criminal Court of abetting and planning unrest. Like the Guardian puts it, some of the front runners are “tribal godfathers.” Chaos and violence characterized the registration of coalition candidates in many areas this week, which raises an escalating sense of foreboding.
In 2007 Uganda, which channels most of its imports through Mombasa, paid for its dependence with temporarily stalled economy. And although we are being given assurances that things will be different this time round, we should still be very worried.
Gambian govt workers given extra day off
While scolds here were busy claiming we didn’t need a day off to “celebrate” NRM’s liberation day, The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh took it a notch higher and gave public sector workers in the country a four-day work week.
According to the BBC, a statement from his office “said that from February 1, the working times in the public sector would be Mondays to Thursdays.”
The Gambia is a mainly Muslim country, and President Jammeh thinks people should be free to go for prayers on Friday without having to worry about work. (Somebody should have told him that most people don’t do that much work on Fridays anyway: they come in late, dressed casually, and then proceed to watch cat videos for most of the day. And Facebook, of course.)