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Wednesday, December 21, 2016

2016 HAS BEEN A ROCKY YEAR FOR KENYA

The year 2016 has been a rocky year for Kenyans in many ways.

It is a year that has been characterized by shifting political demographics, acrimonious fights between the ruling Jubilee and the opposition CORD, a warped relationship between the office of the Auditor General and the Executive, and citizen's growing frustrations over lack of more transformative policies aimed at improving their standards of living.

It is a year in which petty and real-politic took center stage over bread and butter issues; of protests, hostility and insults; a year in which leaders talked from roof-tops about slaying the dragon of corruption while doing nothing about it; and a year in which Kenyans continued to die in road accidents, extra-judicial killings and hunger.

The year 2016 has also been a year of labor unrests, the doctors' and nurses' strike taking the longest period to resolve and culminating in disruption of health services and deaths of patients.

But it was also a year in which the government of Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto delivered some positives on education, mass electrification, infrastructure, and security.

The best news as the year comes to an end is, after months of haggling the new chairman of the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission has been unveiled. Eliud Wabukala, the soft-spoken former head of the Anglican Church is perhaps the most qualified candidate among those interviewed. He is non-controversial and commands respect across the political divide.

When he moves to Integrity House in the new year, he will find his in-tray full of files requiring immediate action. But his first task will be to restore the integrity of the anti-corruption body which has suffered years of disrepute.

It is hoped that as a decent man of the cloth, Wabukala will not buckle down to political interference and pressure from crooked elements whose career is to ruin our country. He will need to be fair but tough, apolitical and above ethnic instincts. He must always remember his service is to Kenyans and not to the Executive or anyone else.

Given the history of EACC and the high turn-over at the top of the organization, the question is not whether Wabukala will excel, but how long he will last. That remains to be seen.

The outgoing year has also seen electoral reforms moving steadily forward. Soon, the process of extinguishing the old Commission and installing a new one will be completed. It has been a slow process but we hope preparations for the polls will proceed smoothly thereafter, and the elections will be held as scheduled on 8 August, 2017.

Unfortunately, in their usual mischief, Members of Parliament have already begun lobbying for the polls to be postponed, reasoning that the electoral body would not be ready to carry out fair elections. That proposition is as futile as it is nonsensical and Kenyans should resist any such move.

The constitution mandates for elections be held every five years. As lawmakers the MPs must be beholden to the law. So, next year it must be.

As I proceed on my own holiday, I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to thank them for their support. This column rests until January 5.

And that is my say.

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