THE NAIROBI NOTEBOOK
A new order
By Newton Kanhema
Now as the country tries to adjust to the new political landscape it is, of course, taking its time to kick old habits. Almost half of the 30 million Kenyans have never known any other President but Moi, so even their tongues are yet to be deKanu-ised and deMoi-ised hence the "Moi Kibaki".
The peaceful change of guard in Kenya has boosted the confidence of locals and international players both diplomatic and business-related. For the first time in 40 years stocks at Nairobi Stock Exchange gained by an average of 16 percent last month, a phenome- non barely possible towards the end of a financial year.
The Kenyan shilling started firming against major currencies as soon as the election results indicated victory for Kibaki and accelerated when Kibaki was sworn in as the third President of Kenya since 1963. The IMF and the World Bank who had both suspended aid have already opened discussions with the Kibaki government.
Kibaki promised the eradication of corruption, free and compulsory pri- mary education and revival of the economy. He appears to be on course towards his target. His government, smaller in comparison to that of Moi, is manned by professionals who have so far demonstrated a resolve to fulfill the National Rainbow Coalition (NARC commonly known as Rainbow) campaign promises.
Endemic corruption, which had become a way of life, is now being con- fronted aggressively. In Kenya when anyone got into their ear it was imperative to drive around with cash in case traffic cops flagged you down. The money became one's ticket through a checkpoint without having to be delayed more than necessary. The public transport matatu (minibus) drivers would slow down when flagged and hand over $1.25 (a 100 shilling note) like they were going through a toll gate.
In the past the fight against corruption
had always lacked committed presidential support. This has changed and its effects are being felt already with citizens taking the lead.
Four days after the president's inauguration, for example, in Machakos district of Kenya's Eastern Province, a traffic policeman flagged down a matatu and the tout got out to 'consult' with the officer and his colleagues. Soon, all 18 passengers were demanding the policemen return the bribe. Eventually, the cops even coughed up the rest of the day's pickings.
Passenger, Thomas Muinde. told the Daily Nation, "When President Kibaki was sworn in, he urged Kenyans to help him fight corruption. The war starts with us, the citizens. If we do nothing.the new government will fail."
During the election, Kibaki reminded his supporters that this year (2003) would mark 40 years since Kenya became a self-governing nation. "Forty years is a remarkable duration historically and biblically: It took the children of Israel 40 years to travel from Egypt to Canaan, a distance no longer than from Mombasa to Kisumu (about 1000km).
"One wonders why it took them so long. Is it that the terrain was difficult? Or is it that they did not have a clear road map? Or maybe they did not have anyone to lead them someone with a clear idea of where they were going, or why?" asked Kibaki.
He said good leadership and vision and clear road maps for development were important factors in the life of a people and in the development of nations.
Kibaki compared Kenya and Singa- pore, which have been independent for almost the same period. Singaporeans were at the same level of poverty and underdevelopment as Kenyans in 1963. But, while Kenya's per capita income is still almost where it was then - about $350 - Singapore's is now a whopping $19 500.
"Just imagine it: a small island with almost no known natural resources: not even enough land for each family for home gardening. All they have had since independence is an honest and hard-working political leadership in which the people have trust and confidence. When a society has good democratic governance, and its leader- ship is honest, disciplined and hard-working, people will have confidence in their government and investments, both domestic and foreign, will increase by leaps and bounds. There is no magic and no secret about it," said Kibaki.
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