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September 26, 2018

MACHEL WAIKENDA: Must Uhuru give every order?

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A Crow, half-dead with thirst, came upon a Pitcher, which had once been full of water. But when the Crow put its beak into the mouth of the Pitcher, he found that only very little water was left in it, and that he could not reach far enough down to get at it.

He tried but gave up in despair. Then a thought came to him, and he took a pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher. He then took another pebble and dropped it into the Pitcher.

He repeated this again and again and at last, he saw the water mount up near him, and after casting in a few more pebbles he was able to quench his thirst and save his life.

The story teaches us the value of building on to things instead of stopping and giving up. It shows that we are more successful if we remain consistent in what we are tasked to do.

In President Uhuru Kenyatta’s first term, he started an initiative to fight alcohol abuse, especially in Central Kenya. When it was started, there was a flurry of activity about it, with raids on drinking dens flooding our news outlets every other day. But slowly, all of this action and attention from the government and politicians died down. Also, Nacada has not taken the cue and maintained the momentum. Today, we are faced with the same problem because we refused to deal with it consistently.

In the President’s second term, he has embarked on a goal of eradicating impunity in the housing and construction sector. Because of the good will from the President, all agencies have jumped into action and have been keen to demolish buildings.

But just like the action with the alcohol fight in the first term, the excitement seems to be dying down. And soon the roaring Sany may just get parked somewhere and we will also forget about it until we are reminded that there is need to clear rivers and road reserves.

It took the President’s intervention for the National Land Commission as well as the Parliamentary Committee on Environment to swing into action in Mombasa. It has been clear that private developers had grabbed the land in Kimbalani but it wasn’t until the President spoke that we started seeing action.

It is the same case with the delocalisation of teachers by the Ministry of Education and the Teachers Service Commission. Even after multiple complaints, it wasn’t until the President gave instructions that TSC is now dealing with the issue.

We must, therefore, at this point ask ourselves very critical questions. Can institutions work in Kenya only with the good will and support from the President? Don’t institutions have the mandate to work independently of the President and carry out their mandate ruthlessly?

This trend — that institutions can only deliver after pressure from the President — must come to an end. The President cannot be able to simultaneously start and cure all ills concurrently, and monitor their effectiveness for the next four years.

We need a new era of accountability that puts pressure on institutions to deliver. Failure to which will mean removal of the senior managers and replacing them with leaders who are willing to do what is right.

In fact, if the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Directorate of Public Prosecutions continued to arrest and arraign people in court consistently, we would see fewer people dipping into the public coffers. If authorities are consistent in bringing down illegal buildings, developers will not put up structures with the impunity of the past.

Like the Crow, let us build on all our processes until success is achieved in all the areas that we are working on. It will not come through a single strike but consistently having institutions do their work as required by law.

The writer is a political and communications consultant

@MachelWaikenda

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