By Seth Odongo
Someone planted a false story on Shining Hope for Communities (SHOFCO) organization in Nation Media (yesterday’s newspaper) which the paper has been forced to pull down (from the Internet).
Shofco runs a community based organization in Kibera, Mathare, Korogocho and other areas where urban poor live across the country. It primarily deals in education and health. The organization’s founder, Ken Odede, is my friend. Sometimes we differ.
Shofco is a good thing; regardless….
Recently shofco invited US artist Madonna who also ended up meeting First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. Her Beyond Zero initiative seem to be running short of sponsors and funders so they wanted Madonna to sponsor a clinic.
I don’t know the arrangement between shofco, Madonna and Beyond Zero. What I do know is that now, shofco is being arm-twisted to convince Madonna to partner with Beyond Zero.
Fazul Muhammad, who still serves as NGO coordination board chair/CEO despite Egerton University revealing he forged his undergraduate degree certificate from the institution, has been roped in to threaten shofco with deregistration. Maligning shofco has already begun.
What is sad is that Fazul (in the Nation story) made very disparaging remarks on Shofco accounts which he has not seen, and has no authority to; as tax returns are not filed with him. Fazul is to NGOs what another government low vegetable, Ezekiel Mutua, is to the advertising/film industry. Bloated ego backed with arbitrary, illegal authority.
Though some of shofco’s international guests appear clueless (and many celebrities are), they nonetheless come in handy when a kid needs a book here or fees there or some new uniform.
What I don’t understand is why Beyond Zero would want to use the same donors ‘procured’ by struggling citizens to support it; despite the clout and name recognition that come with the person of a First Lady. Can’t she find her guests?
Students of social work may want to research on the Beyond Zero model of political corporate social responsibility; which, in essence, heavily depends on corporate institutions doing business with the government, or hoping to do business with the government, so that their ‘donations’ are pegged on ‘future expected returns’.
A case in point is the Dangote Group which used to be the lead supplier of Beyond Zero mobile clinics but has since pulled out of Kenya, and stopped supplying the clinics.
Underneath the glitz and glamour of Beyond Zero is one of the most poorly thought out initiatives. It is not just shofco that’s apparently being armtwisted; there has been allegations of strong arm tactics on local banks, state parastatals and major blue chip companies whenever the contributions for the ‘FL marathon’ are needed. Phones are often made. Threats are often issued. So the stories go.
If shofco falls, some kid will drop out of school, and they are many. Irony of a government frustrating NGOs at a time jobs are very rare to come by due to runaway tenderpreneurship.