The National Government Public Information Portal: Putting Lipstick on a Pig.
By Dorcas S
With less than 4 months to the August 8th General Elections and apparent failure of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS) to prevent the theft of billions from the Department of Devolution and Planning, Ministry of Health, NYS and a host of other financial scandals, the self-titled “digital duo” have decided to launch yet another “cool” and “hip” endeavor. This week, the ruling Jubilee Coalition launched a website where “the tiniest details” of the most corrupt administration in Kenya’s history can be “traced”.
You have to love the richness of the irony this initiative presents:
A president who famously pleaded “jameni mnataka nifanye nini?” when Kenyans asked him to “trace” and account for billions of shillings siphoned off, some to companies linked to his sister and cousin and in gunias by an erstwhile hairstylist, is now asking the same people he hoodwinked to believe that, in the NGPIP, he has found the silver bullet that will “outline the reasons why……Kenya has witnessed unprecedented development during the last four years….”
Uhuru Kenyatta, whose government could not explain the discrepancy between the KSh. 40bn it purportedly sent to Mombasa County and Hassan Joho’s prompt and confident pushback that the county government had only received ~KSh.21bn is now asking citizens of the most corrupt country in the region to “support his bid for a second term so that he could continue with the transformation journey the country has embarked on.”
I’ll give Kamwana one thing: He is ballsy!
The National Government Public Information Portal (NGPIP), like the IFMIS is yet another example of the misplaced and misguided reliance people like Mr. Kenyatta have on technology; that it’s a substitute for competent and effective leadership; that technology will prevent corruption and impunity.
Along with the Primary School Laptop Program, Jubilee believes that glitzy technology is a panacea for the corruption, famine, extra-judicial killings, debt, impunity and the many other scourges that currently bedevils Kenya. As read somewhere, President Kenyatta and his government wouldn’t need the bells and whistles offered by this latest gambit if his accomplishments were self-evident for all to see.
They are not.
Kenyans don’t need another convoluted difficult-to-navigate portal (which was probably created by some well-connected tenderpreneur from Ft. Hall School of Government) to tell them how poorly the digital duo has performed over the last 4 years.
Clear-minded citizens will simply juxtapose the harsh realities such as the one offered by the “school of misery” video alongside selected children curiously pecking away on their “laptops” – to tabulate the deficient leadership and misplaced priorities.
The high-priced boondoggle that is the standard gauge railway (SGR) can be placed alongside the cheaper, faster, and longer one in neighboring Ethiopia to make the plausible argument that some people, mostly within the president’s close circle, made a killing hence the >KSh.1bn cost differential between the two projects.
While one can make a case for improving a country’s infrastructure, even the best Financial Management Information System (FMIS) is helpless against humans who are determined to steal and have stolen – with impunity – for over fifty years. Mr. Kenyatta’s latest toy, like any system, can be manipulated by creative and tech-savvy Alex Mutuku Mutungis – at the behest of well-connected kleptocrats: Just ask AG Githu Muigai how to stall (or manipulate) a system when asked to submit his boss’ phone and bank records (by the ICC).
The portal cannot mask the disconnect between Mr. Kenyatta’s eloquent characterization of the vision of “an all-inclusive and stable Kenya…..(that is) caring and inspires hope…..not negative ethnicity” and an unhinged divisive leader who not only resorts to name-calling and threats when challenged, but uses the appointment to the highest office in the judiciary (CJ) to pander to a crucial (Kisii) voting bloc.
Two more examples that illustrate the gimmickry of State House’s latest toy then I am done:
– Maybe Jubilants can explain how the portal (or is it pothole?) will provide food and water for the many Kenyans who are dying of hunger and of thirst; both plights exacerbated by poor planning and worse – deliberate killing off of local food sectors to line the pockets of those importing/transporting donated food items!
-And finally, I can’t wait to hear how the portal would have prevented Nyokabi Muthama’s Sundales International Ltd. from “winning” multiple tenders from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority – in violation of the Public Procurement Oversight Authority legislation President Kenyatta himself signed. For those who don’t know, the legislation offered preferential treatment to “Disadvantaged Groups” bidding for tenders.
The president’s sister and cousin – disadvantaged?
While researching this piece, I came across a comment that captured the zeitgeist surrounding the public information portal, albeit in Kiswahili:
“Kizuri cha jiuza na kibaya chajitembeza.”
Loosely translated, President Kenyatta and his toadies can put as much lipstick on the thick-lipped pig that has been Jubilee’s time in office as they want. Fortunately, the evidence is incontrovertible – it’s still a pig!
Now if I could only say “Mic Drop” in Swahili or Luo!