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Business of Public Lavatories leaving a bad smell in the air

Coastweek -- Recently, the Nairobi County government did a common thing that happens in our politics in Kenya - they did a complete three hundred and sixty degrees on an issue, writes TETI KAMUGUNDA.

What was significant was that this happened in a very short space of time.

Such circumstances normally have a turnaround time of weeks or months.

They normally following a public outcry after an announcement is made.

It normally starts off by a politician or someone in high public office making a profound statement about an event, circumstances or intention.

It could be about anything from spraying a city to contain a perceived mosquito outbreak to announcement of a major investment by the county government – such as a garbage plant or the award of a major service contract.

In the case of Nairobi County government, it was the announcement by the boss that they would be revoking the contracts of all operators of the public toilets and that they would revert to the County government and would be provided free of charge.

Within a few days the order was revoked – much to the amusement of the residents of the City County.

However, my bigger concern was why did it have to be the boss ?

Also had the stakeholders been consulted ?

Were the contracts reviewed to look at the ramifications of making a verbal “executive” termination order during the tenure of the contract ?

Operators that provide services to governments and public institutions have all been contracted in accordance with the business laws of that country.

For a leader to wake up and cancel agreements without following due process is flouting the law – no matter how small the contract it is in value or in extent – it is still a contract.

This kind of behaviour sends the wrong signals to potential investors as well as service providers who want to operate honestly.

For me it smells of deals being cut or opportunities being created for cronies in the name of continuity.

It is the proverbial act of shooting before taking proper aim.

It is an act with a desired predetermined outcome that if one digs deep enough, will always result in finding that several people involved in the decision process have been compromised or are involved in a manner that is detrimental to the objectives of fair play. OK, let us call it corrupt deals.

My other concern with such pronouncements is the also why the boss ?

What is the role of the county executives or people in whose dockets such actions fall.

If it is a specific item that belongs to a specific Ministry in the National Government or a Department in a County why doesn’t the Minister or the County Executive in charge of the docket make the announcement – or are they not allowed to do so ?

Also, why do we not hear that “in spite of numerous consultations and meetings, we have not been able to reach agreement and therefore we regrettably have to make a unilateral decision in favour of the wananchi” or words to that effect.

Never have I heard anyone make any announcement that includes that fact that other avenues have been tried and failed.

Is there no room for Alternative Dispute Resolution (or ADR) practice in such consultative processes that do not result as a result of contract matters ?

Why can’t a government not call in mediators when discussions between it and its constituents have reached a point where consensus is not possible ?

It bodes or elected leaders to work with their electorate in a servant leadership style.

They are supposed to lead their constituents as their servants and not as their “bosses” which is what we have as the most prevalent way of behaviour by our leaders.

All the promises that “I will bring you roads, hospitals, markets, development (it all its vague splendour !) etc” are all a sign of leaders who want to boss.

Those that promise to involve the constituents in the process and help them deliver on their needs are at least part way to being servant leaders.

Let us hope that the crop elected recently will not turn out to be the same as those leaders we have had in the past.

It is time that we moved from edict based to consensus based working.

As Kachumbari says, a good leader walks together with his constituents. A bad leader shouts profanities from the front.




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  This year’s rally will be
flagged off at Sarova
Whitesands on November
23rd and finish at the same
venue on December 1st.


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