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January 17, 2019

Power, wealth are all vanity


Kenya is losing its grip on reality thanks to partisan politics, ethnic hubris, impunity, sycophancy and vested interests. It’s time for a reality check.

National interest should rank above the shenanigans of the power clique and their choristers. Sycophancy is not a sustainable substitute for patriotism.

Sample this: A business daily newspaper, with a reputation for pro-status quo reporting, headlines, ‘Safaricom sheds Sh20 billion in a week of Nasa boycott.’ The headline is published on the same day Finance CS Henry Rotich makes a confusing public confession, “We have run out of cash.”

He attributes the liquidity crisis to wastage and poor tax collection. But he also admits the government is looking for foreign credit to offset loans that have fallen due. Much like borrowing from Kamau to pay Rashid.

Rotich also claims the opposition boycott of products of three corporate taxpayers — Safaricom, Bidco and Brookside — is inconsequential, primitive, and cannot work in a resilient economy like this one.

His consolation? The irrational reaction to what ‘Nasarites’ call marginalisation will soon fall apart. But he does not say how, when consumers are saying it is no longer viable to forget and move on.

The CS, who decries poor tax collection, does not care about how long the standoff lasts, or what the resolution should be. He is a presidential adviser on the economy.

Earlier, presidential aide David Murathe dismissed the “resisters” as “mere consumers” who do not have a real stake in the economy. Never mind the truism that a stable economy must create a deliberate balance between the interests of suppliers and consumers.

Add other casualties of the boycott, Bidco, the multibillion-shilling manufacturer of cooking fats, and Brookside, a milk producer, and then consider the possible impact on tax collection.

The reality is some consumers have boycotted certain goods. The suppliers are hurting, even if they do not want to admit the damage to spite the nascent resistance movement.

Earlier, Jubilee secretary general Raphael Tuju had dismissed the blockade as the ranting of people from four villages. Tuju says the country should move on with 43 compliant villages, which are outside the NASA ambit.

Tuju’s four villages have turned out to be about 65 per cent of the country that complied with opposition boycott of the fresh presidential election of October 26.

The disenchantment with the status quo has gone beyond the four villages. The four villages — Homa Bay, Migori, Kisumu and Siaya counties — may have reported 100 per cent election boycott, but the five per cent turnout in other NASA-controlled counties send a chilling message of widespread disenchantment with the status quo.

Last week, some European Union diplomats visited Mombasa to calm the soaring call for secession. How did it get to this? How long will the standoff go on before the ostriches get their heads out of the sand?

Rotich talks about wastage of public funds, without saying what the government is doing to stop the plunder of public money in Nairobi and the counties. Last week the Auditor General reported a tidy wastage of Sh2.6 billion at a go, months before the general election, in Homa Bay county. Yet Rotich’s Treasury and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission continue to abet corruption.

When dollar-billionaires die, it is never said how large the assets they amassed. The public comes to know about the assets months after the burial. That is when inheritors begin to fight over sharing of proceeds of impunity.

How much power, and land, a man needs is down to a six by six foot grave. And for power, it is vanity — just about this: You may have the power to abuse, dehumanise, defraud, torment and murder, but that is about all.

The reality is this: You do not have power to resist the grand equaliser. Mortals gain nothing when they hoard power and wealth at the expense of a greater cause. It’s time to bring the clothes — the king is naked.

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