Kenya in recovery after political crisis

kenya_slum_adds_2008Negotiating Nairobi's traffic congestion could appear to be the country's biggest problem. Billboards offer luxuries large and small. In the poorest and most densely populated slums where MMMs are working, countless makeshift retail outlets offer cellphone top-ups. Even the tiny tots know how to use them.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry mandated to investigate the post-election violence at the beginning of 2008 earned its share of praise, describing Justice Waki as 'listening to all parties, sober, focused and unwavering' in his pursuit of fairness.

A Statement of Principles on long-term issues and solutions was issued by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation, mediated by Koffi Annan, Chair of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities. The goal of this group is to achieve sustainable peace, stability and justice in Kenya through the rule of law and respect for human rights.

kenya_oneshoe_boy3_smallThe agenda and timetable examined the underlying causes of the social tensions. It recognized that these stem from poverty, the inequitable distribution of resources, and perceptions of historical injustice and exclusion on the part of segments of Kenyan society.

Six main principles were published as a way of addressing these long-term issues. They cover constitutional, institutional and legal reform; land reform; regional imbalances; unemployment; and transparency.

It will be no small task for the Coalition Government to lead such a reform agenda. Among the practical steps outlined is the plan to generate an average of 740,000 new jobs each year from 2008 to 2012. Youth polytechnics need to be revitalised and expanded in all districts.

On the crucial issue of land reform, without which no lasting peace can be envisaged, it is proposed to link land use, environmental conservation, forestry and water resources.

Some of the best minds on the continent of Africa have been involved in drafting this roadmap to long-term peace. The obstacles on the road ahead are enormous. Meanwhile, the disparity between the lifestyle of the wealthy and the lot of the poor is much discussed on the radio talk shows and in the streets.