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.
normally have a turnaround time of weeks or months.
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
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the order was revoked – much to the amusement of the residents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
provide services to governments and public institutions have all
been contracted in accordance with the business laws of that
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
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
It bodes or elected
leaders to work with their electorate in a servant leadership
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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