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      Back Issues

      Pambazuka News 417: Special Issue: Kenya: One year on

      The authoritative electronic weekly newsletter and platform for social justice in Africa

      Pambazuka News (English edition): ISSN 1753-6839

      CONTENTS: 1. Action alerts, 2. Features, 3. Comment & analysis, 4. Letters & Opinions, 5. African Writers’ Corner, 6. Emerging powers in Africa Watch, 7. Zimbabwe update, 8. African Union Monitor, 9. Women & gender, 10. Human rights, 11. Refugees & forced migration, 12. Social movements, 13. Elections & governance, 14. Corruption, 15. Development, 16. Health & HIV/AIDS, 17. Education, 18. LGBTI, 19. Racism & xenophobia, 20. Environment, 21. Land & land rights, 22. Media & freedom of expression, 23. Conflict & emergencies, 24. Internet & technology, 25. Fundraising & useful resources, 26. Courses, seminars, & workshops

      Help Pambazuka News become independent. Take out a paid subscription by donating $30 a year.

      Highlights from this issue

      - Shailja Patel, the guest, editor introduces the issue
      - Shailja Patel on how the Kenyan left pulled Kenya back from the brink
      - Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) on glaring holes in the Kriegler Report
      - Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ on impunity after the violence

      - An extract from a prison diary by Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser
      - Ann Njogu on the violence and women, now and then
      - Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) responds to the Waki report
      - Mugambi Kiai on the ethnicity, identity and citizenship in Kenya
      - George Nyongesa evaluates the coalition government
      - Ndung'u Wainaina gives a critical look at the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission
      - A Maina Kiai interview by Kwamchetsi Makhoka in which he looks back on the last year
      - Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi criticize the lack of action by the Kenyan Legislature

      AFRICAN WRITERS' CORNER: 'Manifesto of Beginnings' - A poem by Shailja Patel marking the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen electionACTION ALERTS: Firestone: Tell NFL to stop its foul play!
      ZIMBABWE UPDATE: MDC joins unity government
      AU Monitor: AU against Bashir indictment
      WOMEN & GENDER: Moroccan women doctors protest
      CONFLICT AND EMERGENCIES: UN to support DRC joint military plan
      HUMAN RIGHTS: Algeria debates death penalty ban
      REFUGEES AND FORCED MIGRATION: Kenya tasked on Somali refugees
      SOCIAL MOVEMEMNTS: Statement on SA Slums Act judgment
      ELECTIONS AND GOVERNANCE: Congo opposition criticizes electoral commission
      CHINA-AFRICA WATCH: Unpacking Angola's Beijing connection
      CORRUPTION: Corruption takes two…
      DEVELOPMENT: Burundi wins debt relief
      HEALTH & HIV/AIDS: Needless deaths from preventable diseases
      EDUCATION: Swazilnad freed education? Maybe next year
      LGBTI: Ethiopia’s gays threatened
      RACISM AND XENOPHOBIA: UN chief urged to fight “Orwellian distortions”
      ENVIRONMENT: Pastoralists grapple with climate change
      LAND & LAND RIGHTS: New report on land registration in Ethiopia
      MEDIA AND FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION: Tunisian station blockaded
      INTERNET AND TECHNOLOGY: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released
      PLUS: e-newsletters and mailings lists; courses, seminars and workshops, and jobs

      *Pambazuka News now has a page, where you can view the various websites that we visit to keep our fingers on the pulse of Africa! Visit

      Action alerts

      Global: Firestone: Tell the NFL to stop its foul play!


      This year's Super Bowl Halftime show is sponsored by the Bridgestone Firestone tire company. For over 80 years, Firestone has exploited workers and the environment on its rubber plantation in Liberia. After a long campaign for justice, workers on the plantation finally signed their first contract negotiated by an independent and democratically elected union leadership in August 2008, but the company has not implemented many of the important improvements in the new contract.


      Kenya: One year on

      Shailja Patel


      cc. Maruko
      2008 began for Kenyans with the murder of Kenya’s democracy. It ended with the son of a Kenyan migrant winning the US presidential race. In editing this special issue of Pambazuka News, ‘Kenya – one year on’, our guest editor, Shailja Patel says the the questions that arise apply to both these historic events.

      How do we create genuine political, social and economic transformation, rather than just settling for symbolic change?

      How do we bring critical thinking and evidence-based analysis to hope and vision?

      How do we address the truth of mass crimes against entire populations, while remaining open to visionary possibility?

      Three pervasive myths still circulate about the Kenya Crisis.

      First, that it is over. In May 2008, the host of NTV’s breakfast show asked me, ‘Shouldn’t we just get over it and move on?’ On 27 December, the one-year anniversary of the stolen election, the presenter of the BBC’s The World Today programme struggled with irritation when I kept harking back to the civil coup. ‘Hasn’t the country moved on?’, he demanded pointedly.

      The answers lie in Ndung’u Wainaina’s exposure of the fundamental flaws of the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Bill, and in Ann Njogu’s stark description of the ongoing purgatory of hundreds of thousands of displaced Kenyan women and girls. We cannot move on because the post-election violence simply ripped the lid off deep historical chasms and inequities that have never been truly laid out for resolution.

      The second myth is the idea that ‘It is impossible to know who really won the 2007 election.’ Therefore, revert to myth one – get over it and move on. I am frequently challenged on my use of the term ‘civil coup’. Anyone who accepts the deeply compromised Kriegler Report at face value must read the articles ‘Unfinished business from Kriegler’s IREC' and ‘Truths missed and tasks dodged: Kriegler report is a half-baked job’ to understand how Kenyans have still not received the truth they deserve about the election.

      The third myth has practically spawned its own genre: the stories of ‘what saved Kenya’. My favourite among these so far was recounted to me, in all earnestness, by a Ugandan lawyer: ‘It was Museveni who told Raila and Kibaki: Guys, you need to sort this out. Remember how he arrived in Kenya with that briefcase under his arm? The mediation agreement was inside.’

      The lessons of how Kenya was pulled back from the brink of anarchy are vital for the rest of the continent. They highlight the unsung importance of skilled civil society professionals doing their jobs and doing them excellently. Of communities standing up for their rights, against poverty and marginalisation. Of pan-African progressive networks. Of building movements and alliances. Building institutions, infrastructure, and coalitions. So that in the moment when somebody needs to speak, the channels exist, and open, for them to be heard.

      On 3 January 2008, as bloodshed escalated across Kenya, all three daily newspapers agreed to run the same banner headline: ‘Save our beloved country’. In the year since, Kenyans have moved from that supplicant pose to one of palpable, vocal outrage at the repeated betrayals of the political class. It is an outrage that has taken to the streets and will not be silenced.

      Where do we seek visionary possibility in this moment, when it seems that the ruling class will sell the very soil from under our feet? I find it in the heroes of Kenya’s peoples’ movement. In ‘On the frontlines of the struggle’, Patrick Kamotho Githinji sets out, with matter-of-fact simplicity, his extraordinary ability to transcend the horrors of Kenya’s prisons to educate, empower and advocate for his fellow remandees.

      Save our beloved country. What does it mean to love a country when we shut our eyes to the brutality enacted daily on the majority of its inhabitants? How can we love our country if we haven't taken in the pain of our own history? If we haven't really looked at, or listened to, the schisms and jagged cracks in our own society? Claiming the truth, feeling everything it evokes in us, is vital political work. To love our country is to demand justice for all Kenyans over sentimental invocations of national unity. To choose truth, evidence-based analysis, and the enormity of the challenges before us over the fallacy of ‘moving on’.

      * Shailja Patel is an award-winning Kenyan poet, writer, and political activist.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      How the Kenyan Left pulled Kenya back from the brink

      Internal energy and external fire

      Shailja Patel


      cc. Maruko
      In March 2008, I was asked to deliver a “Kenya Bulletin” at South Africa’s Time Of The Writer Festival. In that bulletin, I identified the seven factors that were key to pulling Kenya back from the brink of civil war.

      1) The progressive stand taken by the African Union at its January 2008 summit, bolstered by the intervention of the AU chair, President Kikwete of Tanzania.

      2) Senegal’s advocacy to put the Kenya Crisis on the agenda for the AU summit.

      3) The European Union’s willingness to take its lead from the AU, and offer consistent, concerted support to Kenyan civil society.

      4) The deep patience and extraordinary skill of Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent Persons, in the face of the intransigence and belligerence of the Kibaki / PNU camp at the negotiation table. A belligerence that shamed all Kenyans, particularly when it reached the paranoid extreme of bugging Annan’s hotel room.

      5) The mobilization by the Kenyan Left of progressive Pan-African networks built over decades of organizing.

      6) The strength of Kenyan civil society, both domestic and diaspora.

      7) The unanimous resolutions passed by the US Senate and Congress, calling for, among other things, sanctions on PNU and ODM leaders, such as travel bans and freezing of assets.

      I put it on the record that no one on the Kenyan Left will ever forgive Kibaki and the PNU for placing us in the skin-crawling position of having to petition the Bush regime to intervene in Kenya. And then, having to be grateful for that intervention.

      Or for making Kenya the new global hotspot for crisis entrepreneurs - flocks of UN careerists looking to make their CVs off the Kenya Crisis.

      I skewered the despicable maneuvering of Uganda’s President Museveni to manipulate the crisis for his own East-African-Empire-Building agenda.

      Finally, I broached the most painful topic of all: the complicit silence and blatant partisanship of a generation of former giants of radical struggle in Kenya – most notably, writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o and Nobel Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai – on the murder of Kenya’s democracy. This silence grew to deafening proportions as Kibaki’s coup was followed by the suspension of civil liberties and waves of extra-judicial killings of Kenyan civilians. It was a silence which colluded with the ethno-fascist elements of the Kenyan Diaspora. A silence that became heartbreaking when this faction launched death threats against the new generation of human rights defenders, deeming them “Gikuyu traitors” for taking a public stand against the state-sponsored violence. A silence unbroken to this day.

      Stories of movements do not make good film scripts, or even good headlines. We are conditioned to seek individual heroes, visionary leaders, personalities. That is why this story has not yet been told – how the Kenyan Left saved our country.

      It is a necessary tale. A picture of a net, and how it works. A narrative that must be recorded. Because we on the Left need to remember our victories when the odds seem insurmountable. Because the chattering classes of Kenya still ask, in all seriousness, “Is there a Kenyan Left?” Because the ignorant still assert blithely that “civil society did nothing while Kenya burned”.

      Read on………

      * * * * *

      On the morning of December 31st, following Mwai Kibaki's civil coup in Kenya, 23 members of Kenyan civil society convened an emergency meeting in Nairobi. All longtime activists, they represented a spectrum of legal, human rights, and governance organizations, as well as individual Kenyans.

      Within hours, they had released a statement which:

      denounced the credibility of the electoral process, demanded the ban on live media coverage be lifted, urged full disclosure of presidential tally results, offered hotlines for electoral commission whistleblowers, and appealed to the international community not to recognize Kibaki as president.

      This group would become Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), the voice of Kenya's "people power" that would pull the country back from the brink of civil war.

      Kenyan bloggers across the world swung into action to fill the gap left by the ban on live media. A few days later, the pan-African social justice network, Fahamu, set up an Action Alerts page for Kenya, a comprehensive, real-time, globally-accessible information and resource base for activists and civil society. Fahamu is now playing a similar role in the Zimbabwe crisis.

      During the intense the 48 hours after that first meeting, KPTJ created three working groups – legal, violence-monitoring, and direct action. In subsequent weeks, the legal and violence groups would generate information, backed by verified data and professional analysis, to underpin reasoned positions and messaging for diplomatic efforts. The direct action team would meet daily, defying the government ban on public assembly, providing a public forum for Kenyans across all sectors and ethnicities to channel their outrage into activism.

      As an activist and scholar of movement-building, I had the tremendous opportunity to observe from within what made KPTJ so effective. From the start, there was a remarkable lack of ego, an absence of personal ambition, both among the experts who made up the steering group, and in the larger community support base. The KPTJ alchemy was built on:

      Chemistry between the members. Not the adrenalin-fuelled instant combustion of response to a crisis, but a professional compatibility tried and tested in the field Experience. All the leaders had been in the movement since the early 90s. Trust. KPTJ leaders had built respect for each others’ skills and capabilities over years of working together. Responsibility and ownership. People stepped up to the demands of the hour with heroic commitment.

      From the outset, KPTJ insisted that any resolution of the crisis must address the injustices at all levels - historic, and current -, which precipitated the catastrophe. Prior to the elections, many of its 40-plus member organizations were already ferocious advocates for justice and equity for all Kenyans. KPTJ categorically rejected calls for "peace" and "dialogue" from the camp sardonically labeled “Kenyans For Calm” - those who really sought violent suppression of the poorest and most disenfranchised Kenyans, so that "normal life" could resume for the wealthy.

      KPTJ offered an analysis of the post-election violence that traced each strand of violence to its source, and held the initiators of each form of violence accountable. When we said "peace", we meant that the excessive use of police violence, and "shoot to kill" orders, had to stop. We challenged the uneven and selective policing that allowed Nairobi slums and marginalized areas of the country to burn, while police ringed an empty Uhuru Park to prevent peaceful assembly and protest. We named the militia mobilized in Central, Rift Valley and Nyanza provinces, by individual political actors, to evict, loot, rape and terrorize poor Kenyans, and we described their operations.

      Meanwhile, across the world, the Kenyan diaspora community was rising. In Minnesota, home to over 100,000 migrants from the East Africa region, it was not just Kenyans, but Somalis, Ethiopians, Sudanese, Ugandans, who lobbied their elected representatives. All had a vital stake in the political stability of Kenya, economic gateway and entry port for the East and Central African region, and the Horn of Africa.

      The initial response of the US to Kibaki’s civil coup was a formal message of congratulations on his “presidential victory”. US ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, followed this by urging Kenyans to “accept the results of the election.” The congratulations were hastily rescinded when the European Union issued a strongly-worded statement that the “tally results lacked credibility” and called for a new election.

      Diaspora Kenyan organizers, Dr. Siyad Abdullahi and Dr. Sam Oyugi, made formal advocacy visits to Washington DC to lobby the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. They found that the State Department’s support of Kibaki was rooted in a simplistic and factually flawed formula:

      Kibaki = Christian, Pro-Markets, Pro-US, Pro-War-On-Terror Odinga = Pro-Islam (may even be Muslim!), Socialist, Anti-US

      While calling for Senate hearings on the Kenya crisis, they worked to dispel the myths. They also got Minnesota’s Senator, Norm Coleman, to sponsor the Kenya Resolution in the US Senate. Drawing directly on KPTJ’s language and analysis, the Kenya Resolution called for:

      1) all politicians and political parties to desist from reactivation, support and use of militia organizations

      2) leaders of both parties to engage in internationally-brokered mediation and dialogue

      3) a "thorough and credible independent audit of the election results" with the possibility of a recount, retallying, or re-run of the presidential election within a specified time period

      4) Kenyan security forces to refrain from excessive force and respect the human rights of Kenyans

      5) those found guilty of human rights violations to be held accountable

      6) an immediate end to the restrictions on media and rights of peaceful assembly and association

      7) an end to threats to civil society leaders and human rights activists

      8) all political actors in Kenya to be responsible for the safety of civil society leaders and human rights activists

      9) the international community, UN Aid organizations, and neighboring countries to assist Kenyan refugees

      10) the President of the United States to:

      - support diplomatic efforts towards dialogue between ODM and PNU leaders

      - impose an asset ban and travel freeze on PNU and ODM leaders

      - restrict all non-essential aid to Kenya until a peaceful resolution was reached.

      The Kibaki camp had not counted on the strength and speed with which civil society would mobilize. Nor had it accounted for the intellectual leadership and social capital ordinary Kenyans would unleash, domestically, and internationally. This, as much as Kenya's strategic and regional importance, triggered the African Union's intervention in Kenya.

      When a KPTJ team of six met the Forum of Retired African Presidents in Nairobi, Zambia's Kenneth Kaunda noted that this was the first group the Forum had met that was young, ethnically balanced, and gender-balanced (three women and three men). "This gives me hope!" he declared enthusiastically.

      Behind the scenes of KPTJ was civil society powerhouse, the Soros-funded Open Society Institute for East Africa. Led by Binaifer Nowrojee and Mugambi Kiai, both human rights activists for decades, OSIEA from the outset took a position as "Kenyan, rather than NGO". Drawing on its global network of OSI foundations, OSIEA facilitated and funded international advocacy efforts for KPTJ in key policy-making centres – London, Brussels (headquarters of the European Union), New York (headquarters of the UN), Washington DC, and Addis Ababa (headquarters of the African Union).

      On January 16th, 2008, KPTJ's Gladwell Otieno (Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Open Governance) spoke at the Royal Africa Society in London, and to the Afric All-Party Parliamentary Group of the British government. The following day, the Chair of the Africa APPG drew on her statement of KPTJ's position in his recommendations to the UK Parliament.

      In Brussels, Otieno found that EU members were nervous of "coming across as colonial masters". KPTJ's analysis spurred the EU to offer more robust support to the AU for intervention.

      The turning point for Kenya came at the AU summit in Addis at the end of January 2008. Kenya was not an agenda item for the summit. But by this time, KPTJ had drawn on decades of progressive Pan-African organizing to mobilize civil society allies across the continent. While OSIEA was unable to get KPTJ accredited to attend and speak at the AU summit, it lined up a plethora of meetings with embassies and policymakers. Senegal was particularly supportive in putting the Kenya Crisis on the agenda. When the Kibaki delegation arrived at the AU, they found the heat on them in a way they had not anticipated.

      Across the Atlantic, KPTJ built momentum in its mission to shift the US position towards a mediated resolution to the conflict. Critical to their success was the groundwork already laid by the US Kenyan diaspora. The Kenya resolution had been universally passed by Senate, and was before Congress, when KPTJ's representatives arrived in DC for meetings on Capitol Hill.

      This, coupled with the effective presentation of the civil society position by Maina Kiai (chair of National Commission for Human Rights) and Muthoni Wanyeki (Executive Director of Kenya Human Rights Commission), prompted a shift in the previously unhelpful unilateral approach of the US State department. As violence escalated in Kenya, Maina Kiai returned to address the House of Representatives on February 7th. He called for higher-level intervention from the US.

      On February 14th, President Bush announced the dispatch of Condoleeza Rice to Kenya. On arrival in Kenya, Rice requested a meeting with representatives of Kenyan Civil Society. The team of six sent to meet her included Gladwell Otieno (KPTJ), Njeri Kabeberi (KPTJ / National Civil Society Congress) and Betty Maina (Kenya Association of Manufacturers / KPTJ). It was clear that Rice was impressed by the majority and impact of strong women leaders in the delegation. Immediately following this meeting, Rice spoke to the press, finally aligning the US with the AU and EU, in requiring Kibaki and his hardliners to negotiate a power-sharing agreement.

      "The Diaspora effort provided the external fire," say's OSIEA's Mugambi Kiai. "KPTJ was the internal energy. Together, they brought the water to the boil."

      * Shailja Patel founded KPTJ’s Direct Action Training Workshops, to empower grassroots activists with tools and skills for political engagement. The programme was one of seven projects, selected from a global pool, to receive a Ned Grant 2008–09 from New Tactics In Human Rights.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Unfinished business from Kriegler’s IREC

      Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


      cc. Maruko
      If the bi-partisan commission, headed by South African Judge Johann Kriegler, hoped to avoid controversy by making ambiguous statements and generalised conclusions, it walked into the eye of a storm. Although the commission completed its work on schedule and adopted many recommendations Kenyans have been making on the kind of electoral system they would like to have, a keen reading of its report shows that it went off the tracks as soon as it began the search for truth.

      Civil society monitors noted that after successful countrywide visits, in which investigators identified 114 potential witnesses, the Kriegler commission chose not to record their statements or summon them to give evidence. Based on the information and evidence received even before the commission was set up, there were complaints about the results from 49 constituencies. The IREC (Independent Review of Election Commission) chose not to summon the concerned returning officers to explain alleged anomalies, which ranged from the alteration of documents to filing improper election returns.

      The commission chose not to summon many of the 32 ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) commissioners and staff who were at the nerve centre of the discredited tallying system that produced a presidential result that even IREC does not believe. Instead, the commission chose to listen to the ECK chairman, one commissioner and 10 staff. For corroboration, it took evidence from only one domestic observer, and then closed shop.

      No heed was paid to allegations of a break-in at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) on 31 December 2007, which is recorded at the KICC police station as OB NO. 7 of 2 January 2008. No attention was paid to issues that required further investigation, such as local administration officers issuing identity cards to schoolchildren so they could vote. Or presiding officers neglecting to accompany ballot boxes. Or fake ballot papers floating around, or even parallel ballot papers being printed.

      No inquiry was made into the allegations that security agents were deployed to rig elections, despite the fact that two police officers lost their lives because of such information reaching the public.

      The commission did everything possible to avoid getting to the truth. The statistical analysis it chose to use was not only ineffective and poorly employed, but also blinded the commission to what else it could do with the results to obtain the truth. The IREC chose not to draw on local experts who could have performed a more effective analysis.

      In sum, the Kriegler report is a half-baked job that attempts to cover up offences committed by people who deserve no such protection. A detailed analysis of its methodological flaws is carried in the Comments & Analysis section of this issue of Pambazuka News, and what follows is an overview of the IREC’s performance.


      1. Why did President Kibaki choose to ignore the Inter-Party Parliamentary Group (IPPG) in selecting the electoral commissioners?
      2. Why was the mandate of the experienced deputy chairman of the ECK not renewed and why was he replaced by Kibaki’s former family lawyer?
      3. Why were previous demands for electoral reforms ignored?
      4. Why did the ECK choose not to utilise the IT equipment it had access to?
      5. Why did the ECK recruit staff who lacked competence, and not give them adequate training?
      6. Why were the ECK staff posted to work in their home areas?
      7. Why did the Nation Media Group’s database crash on the evening of 28 December, and why did KTN (the other major Kenyan news network) management around the same time tell newsrooms to only broadcast ECK data?
      8. Why did the ECK chairman, on the morning of 29 December, complain that he couldn’t reach his commissioners in PNU (Party of National Unity) strongholds on the phone and hint at a ‘cooking of figures’?
      9. Why was the counting and tallying marred by ‘massive arithmetical errors by returning officers’ when every mobile phone had a calculator function?
      10. Why did the commissioner of police prevent the public from coming near the KICC?


      The IREC deserves praise for producing its report on deadline. This is a marked departure from the conduct of previous commissions of inquiry.

      It is important to point out, however, that the report suffers from two principal shortcomings resulting from the methods the commission adopted:

      1. On witnesses, the investigation appears to have largely relied on the evidence of the prime players, that is the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). It failed to look for evidence either to corroborate or contradict what the ECK said. In dealing with complaints about constituency results issues, evidence from others present during the process such as security agents, observers or voters, and not just from the returning officers in question, would shed light and sharpen the findings.

      The rules of evidence and investigation require that you do not rely on the uncorroborated evidence of one player. One would also have expected that the interviews of ECK commissioners could have been expanded to include other commissioners (only a small selection of them was interviewed). The total number and spread of people who testified under oath is too thin to have given the commission the totality of the evidence required to arrive at factual and accurate findings.

      2. On the statutory forms and the allegations surrounding the tallying process, the approach adopted by the commission in determining whether it was error or fraud that occurred at the KICC was also limited. A more thorough forensic analysis would have determined whether it was error or fraud that occurred during the tallying of results and filling of statutory forms. This audit could have included examining documents, such as selected Forms 16, 16A and 17A. In addition, it might have helped, after dealing with the legal issues surrounding this, to have conducted a physical inspection and recount of ballots in a random, select number of ballot boxes.

      The commission’s full report is analysed below along six thematic lines drawn from its terms of reference.


      THE GOOD

      The report admits that there is a need to expressly provide for the right to vote in the constitution. It also recommends merging all electoral laws into one, with a provision included to set up a court to resolve disputes over elections.

      Not every problem facing the country can be resolved through constitutional and legal change alone, however. Kenya, the report says, must undergo societal change and develop a culture for tolerance, fidelity to the law, honesty and transparency.

      THE BAD

      Although the report indicts the ECK for incompetence and cites institutional collapse, it fails to assign individual responsibility for critical lapses. This presents opportunities for the Kenyan habit of blaming everything on the need for legal reform without requiring adherence to existing laws. The IREC is right to call for an end to the culture of impunity, but it is not forthright enough in pointing out officials and institutions that did not carry out their mandate as required by law, and suggesting what should happen to them.


      The need to change Kenya’s electoral system has been acknowledged for a long time. Part of the blame for the crisis Kenya found itself in has been laid on the first-past-the-post electoral system, which is said to encourage conflict and not conciliation. Although the report points out the shortcomings of the current system and deficiencies in the systems proposed in the Bomas and Wako draft constitutions, its attempts to highlight the shortcomings of a mixed-member representative system are unconvincing.

      The report also fails to discuss the law governing presidential elections and thus passes up an opportunity to tie up all the issues requiring reform around the electoral process.


      THE GOOD

      The president’s unilateral appointment of commissioners, the ECK’s unwieldy structure of too many commissioners, and the lack of separation of functions between commissioners and the secretariat are identified as problematic. The report also finds shortcomings in the lack of specific qualifications and qualities needed for one to be appointed commissioner, and the poor training for staff who handled the elections.

      THE BAD

      The report is thin on the role the appointments played in the ECK’s loss of credibility and performance. A more robust analysis of this issue would have been useful.

      Although the report recommends that clear lines of individual responsibility are needed for service delivery among commissioners and staff, it fails to identify instances of the commissioners or staff failing to be accountable.


      Due to the inept manner in which the ECK conducted the elections, the IREC should have suggested how to hold individuals and the institution accountable to their mandate and actions. Even as currently structured, it is clear what particular aspects for which individuals are responsible. What measures can be used to review the performance of the institution and of the individuals in it? How do you hold people and the institution accountable to their mandate and actions?


      THE GOOD

      The report decries the partisan nature in which most institutions carried out their mandates and the pervasive levels of negative ethnicity that accompanied the electoral process. The discussion on opinion polls and the media is largely apt. The discussions about levels of partiality by faith-based organisations and civil society organisations (CSOs) and performance of the Kenya Elections Domestic Observation Forum (KEDOF) are also apt and worth greater introspection by the different categories.

      THE BAD

      The report proceeds as if there were only two political parties in Kenya: the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Although they were the main protagonists in the dispute, there were other parties, notably ODM-Kenya. A more comprehensive analysis and inquiry is required, incorporating other parties in the discussions on skewed party nominations and performance.

      In the run-up to the 2007 elections, political parties were registered and run in a loose legal environment. Although the Political Parties Act is now in force, it is the discredited ECK that is expected to midwife it. A major shortcoming of the report is the failure to lay out how to restore confidence in the ECK.


      The section on complaints against civil society organisations and election observers lacks dispassionate and rigorous analysis. It merely catalogues verbatim complaints from various groups without contextual analysis.


      THE BAD

      The finding that the ECK did not perform its role adequately with regard to redrawing constituency boundaries is overly harsh and misplaced. The current number of constituencies is the maximum allowed by the constitution. The ECK had called for changes and pleaded with parliament, but partisan politics ensured that the review of constituencies never took place.


      The discussions on party nominations are also conservative. The high number of irregularities, incidents of violence and outright manipulation during the party nominations was markedly graver than the report paints them.

      5. TALLYING

      THE GOOD

      The report says it is impossible to know who won the presidential election since the results and the process of recording them were heavily polluted. The ECK failed to guarantee that the results accurately reflected the votes cast. There were many problems in the tallying at the polling station and at the constituency level.

      THE BAD

      The report adds that there was no evidence of crime or irregularities at the national tallying centre. The commission appears to have handled the national tallying centre differently from the field, adopting a defensive approach to some of the issues raised, including KPTJ’s reports.


      The most important aspect of the election cycle, requiring utmost integrity, is the counting and tallying. Yet the commission does not say whether these two processes met the standard. The report says counting and tallying at polling stations and/or constituency tallying centres lacked integrity, but shies away from making a definite conclusion on the integrity of the tallying process at the KICC. The report dismisses the complaints raised about the tallying process. If one puts aside the complaints, what does the commission think of the integrity of the tallying process at the KICC? Failing to address this question adequately is a negation of the IREC’s mandate. Without addressing this aspect of the process, is it not possible to reach a conclusion on the integrity of the results of the 2007 elections.

      A more thorough and factual analysis was needed to determine whether the pollution of the results was due to errors from the field, errors at the KICC, or both. Were these errors deliberate and schematic, pointing to some element of fraud, or were they accidental and due to incompetence?


      THE GOOD

      The report reveals that provisional results announced at the KICC differed from the actual results captured in the original Form 16. The manner in which these errors were treated differed from case to case. In some cases, the errors were corrected, while in others they were not. The report indicates, however, that changes continued being made to the results even after the declaration of the winner, some of which were evident in the published results of 9 January 2008 and after.

      THE BAD

      Officials at the ECK seem to disagree on whether it was permissible to make changes once the provisional results had been announced. The results announced by the ECK are, therefore, not accurate. The issue that the IREC should have answered is the reasons for these anomalies. It fails to do so.


      Although the IREC concludes that there was no evidence of fraud or rigging at the KICC, two issues stand out in the chapter discussing this fact. First is the dissent by some commissioners. Since this was a critical component of the IREC’s mandate, one should not just take the finding at face value. The commission was unable to arrive at a unanimous verdict on the accuracy and integrity of the national tallying process. Several commissioners, who were not convinced about the conclusion on the lack of fraud at the tallying centre, dissented.

      Normally, dissenting minority opinion is noted as the position of the majority is adopted. In this instance, the totality of unanswered questions and errors documented by the commission – including differences between announced figures and those on some copies of Form 16, and wrong entries in the forms and the ECK database resulting in the supply of false information – points to two possibilities:

      a) That all these were due only to the poor training and poor calibre of staff; or
      b) That this resulted from a deliberate and planned scheme to rig the elections, as the dissenting commissioners imply.

      Without attempting to conclusively determine which of these two groups is factually right, the commission should not have conclusively taken either of these positions on the basis of gut feelings or inconclusive investigations, as is evident from chapter six of the report.


      The report discusses the hurried and low-key swearing-in ceremony of the president and the reported unhappiness of the ECK chairman with the manner in which the ceremony was conducted. This event needs to be viewed on a continuum with the announcement of the results. If the ECK chairman says he was not happy yet played along, does it suggest that ECK was fully in control of the elections? If the evidence was that the ECK was not in control, then who was?

      Although the report says that it is unnecessary to reach a verdict on whether the stated complaints and irregularities result from human error or fraud, this issue is crucial to the integrity of the presidential results. The report only says that the conduct of the 2007 elections was so materially defective as to make it impossible to determine the true and reliable results for the presidential election. What does this mean in practice and in law? The commission needed to answer this question.

      One of the key issues that has bedevilled Kenyan society is the culture of impunity. Many Kenyans, especially in public service, operate in total disregard of the law. In many cases the public officers who disregard the law do so fully aware that no legal action and culpability will follow their actions. Invariably, the manner in which the legal system has operated supports this position. This culture was neatly evident in the manner in which the 2007 elections were conducted.

      Although falling short of assigning individual blame for the 2007 election debacle, the report touches on the cause of the problem. The IREC correctly identifies the culture of impunity as having pervaded most sectors of the Kenyan society and recommends urgent redress. However, except for these positive statements, the report fails to identify any participant in electoral malfeasance. It does not even say that such and such person or institution requires further investigation.

      After determining that the ECK is structurally and functionally defective, the commission should have proposed a way forward. It should have offered Kenya a clear roadmap to deal with the failure of the ECK and its managers.

      The Kriegler report did not provide Kenya with that roadmap for dealing with the ECK. Neither did it determine the extent of electoral offences committed, or identify who committed them. Simple as these actions may appear, they would have gone some way to restoring Kenyans’ faith in the power of the ballot.

      * This report was jointly produced by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, convened in the immediate aftermath of 2007's presidential election debacle.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Ending impunity

      Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


      cc. Maruko
      Going the extra mile to find the truth and ensure accountability for perpetrators of post-election violence.

      Excitement. Then panic. Then terrified powerlessness. Kenya’s politicians have ridden the rollercoaster of emotions since the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election-Violence presented its report.

      They have said the report is a threat to peace and national cohesion. They have said it is a product of illegal processes. They have also come round to accepting that they must implement it.

      One of the expectations in setting up the Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence was that it would find the people responsible for gross human rights violations and recommend appropriate punishment.

      The decision not to publish the names of people the commission believes bore responsibility for the violence has elicited mixed reactions.

      The commission handed the coalition government two tough political choices involving complex tradeoffs. While there are those who would prefer that justice for perpetrators of the post-election violations be secondary to structural reforms of the institutions that failed the country, Kenya’s recent crisis suggests that failure to punish those responsible would set a bad precedent.

      The single most important recommendation in the Waki Report is the setting up of a Special Tribunal to seek accountability from persons bearing the greatest responsibility for serious violations relating to the 2007 elections. The tribunal should apply Kenyan law as well as international criminal law through the International Crimes Bill, which is pending enactment into law.

      Further, an agreement on the tribunal’s formation must be signed within 60 days of the Panel of Eminent Persons receiving the report. The Special Tribunal should be created by law within 45 days of the agreement being signed. The tribunal will be anchored in the constitution and insulated from challenges arising from constitutional provisions about its jurisdiction.

      If the Special Tribunal is established in any other manner than what has been set out, a list containing the names of suspects and relevant information will be handed over to the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court.

      The commission not only set general guidelines and principles on how to bring to justice those who were behind the post-election violence. It also provided measurable benchmarks within a specific timeframe. Failure to comply would spring referral to the ICC. This is by far the most ingenious proposal visited on Kenyans. The threat of enforcement is real in the event of default.


      For the first time in Kenya’s history, a commission of inquiry isolated sexual and gender-based violence for special attention. An analysis of the Commission’s investigation on sexual and gender-based violence is carried in the COMMENTS AND ANALYSIS section of this issue.


      Security agents failed to protect citizens and instead engaged in criminal behaviour.

      How did state security agencies act in the lead up to polling day? Answering this question enabled the Commission of Inquiry into the Post-Election Violence to determine how prepared security agencies were for what would come.

      The Waki report analyses how the security apparatus runs as well as its failures in the period after the elections. Overall, its verdict is that the state security agencies failed institutionally to anticipate, prepare for, and contain the violence and that individual members of the state security agencies were [often] guilty of acts of violence and gross violations of the human rights of the citizens.

      In many ways, the report complements, confirms and builds on previous findings by various actors in the security sector. Its recommendations form a good basis on which to establish governance systems in the security agencies that bring them in line with democratic practice.


      The report analyses how the state security machinery works in detail. It identifies this machinery as consisting of politicians, civil servants and officials in the national intelligence service, the police, the administration police, the prison service and the military.

      Usually, this system develops security intelligence, which it delivers to the police or the military for action. The system is administrative and not subject to regulation by law. This makes it difficult for the public to hold it to account for its actions or omissions.

      In summary, the Waki commission found the following anomalies in the way the security system was run:

      1. MONOPLOY OF FORCE: The President unilaterally appoints all the people who occupy senior positions in this system. In the post-election period, the security machinery, which is designed to serve the interests of the political regime in power, was under the sole control of the Party of National Unity.

      2. PARTISAN SPY AGENCY: The National Security Intelligence Service conducted an opinion poll and seemed to communicate the results outside the formal and established channels. The NSIS also became an agent of government in the electoral process. It sought accreditation badges for its officers from the Electoral Commission of Kenya; and it wrote to the ECK advising on how certificates should be dealt with by agents and that ECK should meet with media house owners and editors and the candidates with a view to striking a deal on the modalities of transmission and announcement of results. Specific advice of this nature was unwise and outside the NSIS mandate.

      In the run-up to the December elections, NSIS had warned of... emerging allegations that the government is planning to use some sections of government organs including the provincial Administration and the Administration Police (APs) to rig the forthcoming elections. It seems that NSIS chose to do nothing about these allegations.

      3. ABUSE OF POWER: It appears that the Head of Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet, Mr Francis Muthaura, ordered that a large number of Administration Police officers be trained to act as election agents for the Party of National Unity. A senior academic together with high-ranking government officials, commanders of the Administration Police, conducted the training.

      The role of the AP officers was to disrupt polling and where possible ensure that government supporters amongst the candidates and voters prevailed. Mr Muthaura told that Commission that this deployment was approved by the Government and was commissioned for security reasons and that the reason for sending these people under plainclothes is that the area was very unfriendly.

      4. LICENCE TO KILL: The police often used excessive force and killed many citizens using live bullets in efforts to maintain law and order. In some cases, victims were “shot whilst in and around their own homes.As a result, 405 people died of gunshot wounds, while 557 received treatment for gunshot wounds. The commission largely attributes these excesses to the police, saying it did not receive any evidence to show that anyone else shot or killed people with guns.

      Police armoury records relating, for example, to the use of firearms and ammunition in Nyanza Province were analysed and revealed that significant amounts of ammunition and tear gas were expended and in very many cases there is no record at all of ammunition expended. Witnesses also testified that police use of firearms was indiscriminate.

      The police themselves had a prime difficulty in defending the use of lethal force on retreating crowds. There was “no legal or operational basis for justifying the shooting of civilians from behind at any given time during the circumstances presented to it.

      The use of live ammunition also raises two important questions. For example, the Homa Bay police boss told the Commission that his staff were only issued with live rounds and not blanks or rubber bullets. How was it that this district only received live ammunition? Perhaps the police had run out of rubber bullets, were overwhelmed and therefore resorted to using whatever means at their disposal to deal with the emergency. Or it could be that a deliberate decision was made to use live bullets in areas hostile to the government.

      5. COVER-UPS AND INCOMPETENCE: Even when provided with strong evidence identifying offenders, police did not investigate complaints -- especially those relating to property offences, deaths by shooting, and rape. Where inquest files were opened, at best [only] a superficial investigative effort was undertaken. This failure to investigate is attributable to factors such as self censorship or fear on the part of the investigators who are susceptible to pressure and manipulation. Senior public officials told the commission that such self-censorship is real especially in respect of investigating individuals who could influence an investigator’s work prospects or pose a personal threat.

      6. CRIMINALS IN UNIFORM: The commission found credible evidence of criminal behaviour by the police, including murder, gang rape and looting. For example, an Administrative Police officer in Nairobi, who was identified by many witnesses, is alleged to have shot a number of citizens, many of whom were killed. There were numerous instances of police officers committing acts of sexual violence, including gang rape.

      7. WINKING ON RAPE: The police failed to take allegations of rape seriously. For example, some senior officers told the Commission they did not include figures relating to sexual violence in their statistics, apparently not deeming it important. The presentation by the Commissioner of Police does not have any statistics on sexual violence. The Commissioner of Police should also be held accountable for this serious omission. Indeed, the commission says victims of sexual violence who went to the police to report were met with a dismissive response.

      8. TRIBAL POLICE: Policing agencies were divided along ethnic lines. In Naivasha, for example, the commission established that there were breaks in the chain of command and parallel ethnic command structures within the police meant that even with the best planning the police were too weak to respond adequately to the violence.

      In addition, victims testified that they received assistance from police officers from their ethnic groups while facing hostility from officers who were not from their tribe. This testimony is corroborated by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the International Crisis Group, which observes that there was considerable evidence that officers have taken sides and that in many cases, decisive police action came only when officers thought their tribes or those who voted with their communities were under siege.

      The commission also observed, at least four senior police officers were transferred or retired from their area of responsibility during the violence and at the height of operations. It is plausible that ethnic considerations were a major motivation for these transfers and retirements.

      9. MISPLACED ARROGANCE: The police were simply too far off the mark in terms of being prepared to deal with the post-election violence. Their preparation and planning was scant, commenced far too close to the event, failed to take account of the intelligence received and information available on the ground, and did not encompass preventive activities designed to reduce and/or ameliorate the impact of violence around the 2007 General Election.

      The approach taken by the police reflected misplaced arrogance that they would always be able to control what came up. Second, the policing system in Kenya is designed for reactive, as opposed to, preventive policing. It was, therefore, incapable of preparing and planning properly to manage the General Election. Many police officers said their plans were not written. Many seemed to be actions or reactions to events as they unfolded on the ground.

      10. PLANNING FAILRUE: The National Security Advisory Committee did not meet during the crisis period. Few of the other systems that run the security machinery were working.

      The provincial and district Intelligence committees put in a mixed performance. The police force does not have their own highly developed information gathering and intelligence systems. Its chain of command orientation undermines speedy and accurate dissemination of information. As information moves up and down the chain of command, it is not only distorted but also precious time is lost.

      There are poor linkages and incompatibility between various intelligence arms and reporting systems. The functions of the NSIS overlap with those of the police’s Criminal Investigation Department. The law fails to spell out how the activities of the NSIS and the CID are supposed to be coordinated. The Commissioner of Police is not even a member of the National Intelligence Security Committee. The whole system is also prone to leakages.

      The commission established that the security agencies do not review their performance as a matter of practice, and have not made credible efforts to assess how they worked during the post-election violence period.


      1. Policing reforms should be guided by the principles of fair representation of all ethnic groups in the policing entities, impartiality and cultural sensitivity, decentralization informed by a single integrated command model based upon community policing, respect for human rights, legal and political accountability, and integration of the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police. These principles are based on best international practices.

      2. The Police Act should be amended to strengthen police governance, accountability and organisational arrangements in a way which is suitable for a contemporary age” and improving the effectiveness of the police.

      3. A new and modern Code of Conduct should be enacted to build trust in the police because trust is an essential component without which the police cannot function effectively. Such a code of conduct would seek to instill ethical standards in policing, including honesty, integrity, professionalism, fairness and impartiality, respect for people and confidentiality.

      4. Criminal investigations should be strengthened. The question of independent investigations is particularly important because the commission says the police have a fundamental problem with its investigative capability and capacity. The commission also found that there was inability or reluctance to investigate effectively, serious crimes and their perpetrators even when strong evidence existed. The omission also established that the Police service has weak systems and approaches to investigating incidents where police officers are involved. There is therefore a compelling case for establishing an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

      5. A Police Service Commission must be established, and with it a Civilian Oversight of Policing. The Police Service Commission would be responsible for holding an amalgamated police agency (that integrates the Kenya Police Service and Administration Police Service) to account. With respect to civilian oversight of policing, it envisages the establishment of a well researched, legally based, professional and independent Police Conduct Authority.

      Among other things, the Police Conduct Authority would be responsible for investigating the conduct of policing agencies and officers. A specialized and independent Police Reform Group (PRG) consisting of both national and international policing experts would lead this reform process. The PRG is supposed to be established immediately (presumably following the presentation of Waki Report) and report to the Minister of Justice within six months.


      As political temperatures rose and the election loomed, Kenya had a security machinery that was dominated by the regime in power. This security machinery gave wide unrestricted powers to various individuals. The commission made a number of important recommendations that should be implemented. However, it does not provide a clear plan for prosecuting and punishing security agents who committed various crimes against the citizenry; and it does not recommend how the security intelligence apparatus can account to the citizenry, as well as be integrated with policing agencies.

      The Waki report is an excellent account of how police officers exploit and violate the human rights of Kenyans. It collected credible evidence to show that a number of officers committed murder, rape, and theft, as well as soliciting bribes. These findings support those of other organizations such as the International Crisis Group, Human Rights Watch and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. Abuse of power by police officers greatly compromises the effectiveness of policing.

      The commission appears to suggest that errant police officers should be investigated and dealt with through the machinery of the proposed Independent Police Conduct Authority. This Authority is expected to have power to investigate public complaints against police and retrospective powers to deal with historical serious misconduct. Since there are no timelines on when this authority must be in place, it is hard to tell how long the victims of police crime will wait for justice.

      The recommendations concentrate too much on the reform of the Kenya Police Service and the Administration Police. The NSIS also requires a total overhaul if the goal of democratic governance of security intelligence is to be achieved. Additionally, security reform will need to embrace the military

      Specifically, it is important to take note of the following gaps in the report:

      1. It is clear that Mr Muthaura acted arbitrarily, abused the powers of his office, and violated the tenets of civil service neutrality. It is not clear why the commission did not recommend sanctions against Mr Muthaura for abuse of office. These circumstances the commission established raise questions about whether, in a multi-party democracy that preaches political neutrality for the civil service, the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet should sit in, and exercise power over, the state’s key security agencies.

      2. Kenya needs to re-examine the NSIS to determine how best it can serve the interests of Kenyans as opposed to the parochial interests of the regime in power. Although the Waki report says that NSIS was perhaps the best-prepared state security agency, it fails to sanction it for its blatant partisanship. The NSIS is one of the institutions that Kenya must constitute afresh as a matter of necessity and urgency. For as long as the President retains the power to appoint the Director-General of NSIS, security intelligence will always be dictated by the imperatives of keeping the ruling regime in power. The NSIS is not a democratic institution and its preoccupation with helping the ruling regime to hold power has ruled out the need for public accountability in its work.

      3. The commission says the security machinery did a good job of collecting security intelligence in the run up to the election, but this information was not shared in time and in the right way. There is an urgent need to overhaul the police structure to embrace preventive policing. Among other things, this will require that quality, extensive and specialized planning that begins many months if not years before an event such as a general election.

      4. On investigations, the commission’s recommendations are not clear. On one hand, the commission seems to go along with the Attorney-General’s suggestion that an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations should be created. On the other hand, it also suggests that in addition to developing workable and functioning independent civilian oversight arrangements, there should be provisions for some less serious allegations to be investigated and resolved by the police themselves.

      This raises a number of questions. What are less serious allegations? Should the police handle cases where the less serious allegations are made against police officers? How would an independent and autonomous Directorate of Criminal Investigations function alongside independent civilian oversight arrangements?

      5. Although the military may not have been intimately involved in the post-election violence, it is worth noting that the police undertook a joint mission with the Kenya Army to deal with the challenge posed by the Sabaot Land Defence Force, a militia group fighting for land rights. As the dispute over the result of the presidential election was raging, the SLDF was wreaking havoc in the districts of Mt Elgon and Trans-Nzoia.

      In a joint operation against the SLDF termed Operation Okoa Maisha, the police and the Kenya Army are said to have committed ‘truly shocking’ human rights violations, ‘in particular, systematic torture.’

      This activity raises a number of fundamental questions. First, how should the citizenry be policed especially in times of war? Second, how should joint operations of the police and the armed forces be conducted in a democracy? Third, how should allegations of improper conduct made by the citizenry against security forces be handled? In particular, how can the citizenry hold security forces to account in times of peace and in times of war? In this respect, it will be necessary to interrogate how the military works.

      It is also worth noting that the power to deploy the military in the maintenance of internal order is not regulated. The Defence Council is not required to consult or seek the approval of Parliament. Given that the Armed Forces are not subject to the ordinary courts of law, it is therefore difficult for the public to hold the army to account for transgressions in the course of maintaining internal order.


      In view of the commission’s highly credible and damning findings, there is an urgent need to overhaul the state security machinery.

      Overall, the Waki commission largely fulfilled its mandate. It established credible evidence that clearly demonstrates the actions or omissions of State security agencies during the period when the post-election violence occurred. Nevertheless, it did not suggest concrete measures for bringing to justice police officers responsible for criminal acts. This is a glaring shortcoming in the report. This could unduly delay efforts to give justice to the victims of police crime.

      Secondly, the report does not make recommendations on how the security intelligence and policing agencies can be integrated in a legal and accountable manner. This measure is particularly necessary if Kenya is to have democratic governance of its security. Additionally, the commission should have suggested how public actors such as the Commissioner of Police, the Director-General of the NSIS, and the Head of the Public Service and Secretary to the Cabinet should be sanctioned for their abuse of office since evidence of this is abundant throughout the report.

      The greatest obstacle to the implementation of the Waki report is lack of political will. Many politicians are apprehensive that their careers will come to a halt should the recommendations of the Waki report be acted on. The international community must stay engaged; Kenyans must view the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation process as an international initiative.

      * This article was written collaboratively by Kenyans For Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, working for equitable justice for all Kenyans. For more information, please visit:
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Comment & analysis

      On the frontlines of the struggle

      Diary of an imprisoned activist

      Patrick Githinji


      The following is an extract from the diary of Patrick Kamotho Githinji, a community organiser in Kenya with Bunge La Mwananchi. Arrested on 13 November 2008 at a community gathering over the illegal sale of 56 acres of residential land – inhabited by 1,120 households – by the Ministry of Local Government, Githinji was ultimately detained until 27 November. His diary grants us a first-hand view of the prison and his inspirational efforts to improve conditions for fellow inmates.

      Remanded at Industrial Remand and Correctional Prison, Nairobi
      Remandee No.: 9554/08.
      Charge: Causing public unrest and incitement

      I reached the court at 9.05am. Session had begun, unlike previous hearings where the magistrate arrived late, around 9.30am–10.00am. Policeman at the door allowed me to enter. I saw him talk to another policeman, while I was following the proceedings so that I can raise my hand later to explain my cause of coming late. The policeman came to me, asked for my hands and handcuffed me and the person seated next to me. He pulled us and directed that we go with him out.
      I was booked at the basement Prison Police Occurrence Book, having undergone a body search. I was locked in a cell for about seven hours. There was no response from any person that I managed to sms to alert my lawyer. By evening we were roll-called. Next thing I realized is that the bus that takes prisoners was parked a few meters at the main door. Inside the bus the seats are tattered, the metal frames exposed. The bus sneaked its way first towards Treasury House, passing Kenyatta Avenue, to the Office of the President, parliament round about to Uhuru Highway, to Industrial Remand & Correctional Prison.


      Thorough body search while squatting, whips, kicking and cursing. Introduced to ‘Kabaa’, a skit of squatting in a straight line of five, divided in two by three each.

      Convicts are sorted out from remandees. Since we are still not convicted, we are treated much worse than convicts. You are judged by what you are wearing; i.e., rich or poor.

      We were taken to Block Two. Spent the night there. Next morning we are paraded at open front yard, our details taken. Since I was a remandee, I was posted at block L5, this is a two-storey building with a single entrance, a bit favourable due to its sunlight access or water access. Plus minimal police beatings.

      Inside the building it has a church and mosque. Ten dormitories house the remandees; each dorm has 65–70 persons, making a total of about 680 people. Each dorm has a class security person, an in-charge person, utensil washers, and a toilet overseer. Thanks to the MOPA (Movement For Political Accountability), calendars are posted at the wall next to the door in each dormitory, which are very useful for court visitations dates.

      Six sanitation facilities. Mattresses and blankets are available but to access them you have to part with KSh200. To get 20 tablets of ‘ARTEI’ (harmful drug for mentally unstable capital offence remandees) is KSh100. To avoid toilet cleaning duties for 14 days you have to part with 50 shillings. To get good food, ‘molullu’, 200 shillings for a week. To buy bread, 40 shillings. Access to phone is 50 shillings. Cigarettes go for 10 shillings. For bhang (cannabis) 20 shillings. To get ‘marry cane wine and spirit’, 250ml is 130 shillings.

      To get a letter of recommendation to be taken to Kenyatta National Hospital for a medical check-up – i.e., toothache, an asthma condition, or a mental instability report – you part with 300KSh for the prison doctor.


      Wake at 6.30am for prayers, 8.30am we get a porridge.

      After 40 minutes of taking porridge we are forced back to our dormitories till 10.30am, when we come out to get our lunch, consisting of yellowish kale (full leafs with its stem), no tomato or onion, no fat, uncooked and lacking salt. Meat is eaten only on Friday, the size of a thumb nail with a keen eye of a senior police officer on the server of meat.

      ‘It’s irony that meat is cut into very small pieces, but the sukuma wiki are never cut into pieces’, says a fellow prisoner. On one occasion in the yard, we counted the kale stems that remandees left behind. We found that out of over 680 remandees, each eating a leaf of kale, the total stems were 740 pieces.

      Remandees get a 40-minute outing, then go back to the dorms till 3.00pm in time for supper. At 3.50pm we go back to dorm for the night sleep. At different intervals the ‘mandatory kabaa’ roll-call is undertaken; on a single day we can get ‘7–10 kabaas’ (squat in a line of five).


      On 18 November 2008, Madam Wanja, officer-in-charge, visited the block with a heavy security guard in tow. I raised the following issues with her:

      - Artei – a medication used to sedate mentally ill prisoners and remandees at the capital offences block. This drug is smuggled to old remandees which they sell to fellow remandees, and it acts as opium. It causes a remandee to stay drugged for almost 4 days.
      - Bad, stale food; e.g., yellowish kales, lack of salt, use of magadi (bicarbonate of soda) in cooking
      - Police beatings
      - Phone access - I proposed she place a public-card phone booth to be used by remandees to avoid the persistent confrontation by police and remandees with smuggled phones.
      - Hospital access
      - Time for prisoners to bask in the sun
      - The invasion of rice (chawa) parasites

      I also managed to inform and remind her that the prison services regularly invite tenders, through ads in daily newspapers, for the supply of onions and tomatoes to prisons, which the remandees never eat nor see.

      This raising of issues somehow earned me recognition and confidence from fellow remandees and some police officers in the whole block.

      The day after I raised these issues, three underage young people (one from our block and two from adjacent dorm) approached me. They confided to me that they had been sodomised by the in-charge person of the dorms. One had a severe bottom pain and looked sickly. When I approached the culprit I was met by a hostile gang which protects and perpetuates the said evil. I have written a letter of complaint to the person in charge of prison, Madam Wanja, regarding the remandees concerned details of their undertakings and the dorm in which they are housed.

      I have been a volunteer member of St. John Ambulance Brigade, trained as a peer educator, as well as trained in first aid, drug use and drug abuse, care of the sick, malaria control, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and conflict resolution.

      I offered first aid to two remandees on 19 and 25 November at midnight, who had collapsed due to acute asthma attacks (a disorder affecting circulation and producing a strong wheezing sound, and causing the sufferer to be unable to breathe, as well as high body temperature, joint stiffness, and body expansion). Following this, fellow remandees approached me to teach them first aid.

      I embarked to teach them simple first aid techniques, including pressure points, first aid for common ailments such as asthma, heart attack, high blood pressure, fainting, shock, epilepsy, food poisoning, choking and stroke. After these teachings, I was invited to different dorms to teach. Through these seminars I happened to meet three people who knew me from Bunge La Mwananchi.

      The issue of employment was always in our discussion and teachings. One remandee who knew me as having been involved in the Community Development Funds (CDF) accountability project suggested I teach them about CDF. Having read the CDF community auditor manuals by OSIEA (Open Society of East Africa), I articulated and taught the access and procedures used to get projects funded. This brought me to be invited to almost all the blocks. As you know, news in prison spreads faster than bushfire.

      While in remand I happened to fall sick (infection). From 17–23 November, I attended the prison hospital. When requested to have a blood test at Prison VCT (testing centre for sexually-transmitted diseases, including HIV/AIDS), I totally refused. Not because I feared, but the procedure they are using of group tests was very wrong and unprofessional.

      The only good thing in prison is the church. This is where I realised that God exists, from inmates’ testimonies and the sweetest gospel music that is sung in prison for worship.

      27 November 2008 was my 14th day in remand. I was brought to court to answer my case, although I did not see any human rights lawyer to defend me. I was requested to answer why I was late to appear in court. I explained my cause and mentioned that I got sick while in remand to date. The prosecutor intervened; he said my response was not convincing and furthermore that the court should punish me severely. The judge sentenced me to two months or pay a fine of KSh2,000 (US$30).

      Luckily my family had KSh1,000. Bunge La Mwananchi members contributed a further KSh1,340KSh, of which they assisted in paying my bail of KSh2,000. I got KSh340 plus a heavy lunch bought by Bunge leaders.

      During my stay at remand, my family thought I would stay for a long time, as the lawyer had informed them. So they embarked in shifting my house belongings, fearing theft. After my release, I am now facing difficulties, since I don’t have a place to reside in.

      Dear all, through these tribulations I have realised that when ‘given a lemon, try as much to make lemonade’. This was my motivation while in remand.


      1. Is it possible that I can sue the industrial remand prison for human rights violations (cooking of food using magadi (sodium bicarbonate)?
      2. Can it be possible to sue the High Court for unproceedural arrest and conviction? For an arrest warrant to be valid, it has to be taken to a police station for recording, prior to the arrest. This was not done in my case. To make a court case of this will prevent other human rights defenders from experiencing such a violation.

      * Patrick Kamotho Githinji is a community organiser with Bunge La Mwananchi. He is currently receiving death threats for his organising and human rights activities. He can be reached at [email protected].
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Battered, bruised, broken, they trudge on

      The War on Kenyan Women

      Ann Njogu


      cc. Angela
      Ann Njogu argues that in addition to having their property destroyed and being forced to flee from their homes, women’s "bodies were also used as the war zone - a battlefield for opposing forces that often times included the police." Post-violence has not brought much peace to these women. They are still trying to "reconstruct their lives. Children born out of rape, physical scars, HIV and other dreaded sexually transmitted infections; widowhood, divorce, homelessness and biting poverty." Read on for Ann Njogu’s recommendations...

      The period between December 2007 and March 2008 will go down as one of the darkest periods in the history of Kenya. The magnitude of the violence that greeted the announced results of the December 2007 presidential elections was hitherto inconceivable in the minds of Kenyans. The country faced its worst political and governance crisis yet. There was gross destruction and looting of property, staggering loss of life (approximately 1,133 between December 2007 and 29th February 2008 [1]), horrifying sexual violence, maiming and displacement of more than 300,000 people [2] amidst claims of electoral fraud.

      Women and children bore the brunt of this post-election crisis. In addition to losing their husbands, children and other family members; having their property destroyed and being forced to flee from their homes, their bodies were used as the war zone - a battlefield for opposing forces. They were forced to stand by and witness their mothers, fathers, sisters and family members being killed, raped and maimed.

      Women and girls were sexually violated in the most gruesome manner. They were raped and gang raped. Others had their genitals mutilated by machetes, and/or by violent penetration with bottles and other foreign objects.

      These sexual crimes occurred during flight and during civilian displacement. The perpetrators of these heinous acts were insurgency groups, security forces (General Service Unit-GSU and Administration Police) and even humanitarian aid workers in the IDP camps.

      According to the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence (CIPEV) report, many victims allowed members of the security forces into their houses believing they would help them. The security agents however turned against these women and raped them. In some instances, one of them would stand guard outside the house while his colleagues raped the women inside their houses.

      It is however unclear as to the extent of sexual violence during the post election period due to the non- reporting of the cases. Women survivors of sexual attacks viewed reporting their attacks as a lesser priority compared to other immediate concerns such as security, access to food and the well being of their children [3].

      Also, the involvement of the Police in raping women and girls heavily contributed to the underreporting of sexual violations. This is captured in the sentiments of a survivor in Eldoret, who said, "It is a police officer who raped me, how could I even contemplate reporting the attack to his friends. It’s only God who will judge him [4]."

      Women were also barred from reporting the violations by:

      - the stigma surrounding rape,

      - lack of awareness on women’s rights

      - lack of information on mechanisms that they could pursue to report the incidences and seek redress,

      - inability to identify the abusers,

      - fear of reprisal attacks and

      - fear of their reports being doubted.

      The women fled their homes with their severely bruised and battered bodies to ‘safer’ areas, which included churches, schools and public showgrounds. The showgrounds were turned into camps for the displaced persons. Humanitarian organizations such as the Kenya Red Cross and UNHCR among others provided tents, food, medication and other basic needs for the displaced.


      Once in the ‘safe havens’, the IDP camps, women quickly realized that the camps were not as secure as they had envisioned. The tents had no privacy, and in most cases, children and parents shared the same tents. This meant that husbands and wives could not engage in sexual activities, as their children were present. Some men therefore ventured into other tents in search of sexual satisfaction from young girls or single women.

      Rape and sexual exploitation continued, perpetrated this time by security agents and service providers as well as fellow internal refugees. Young girls were waylaid on their way to relieve themselves and raped by young men or security agents in the camps. It became dangerous to venture outside the tents at dusk.

      “"My daughter was molested in this camp at around 7pm when she had left the tent to visit the toilet. When I came home, I was informed about the incident and took her to hospital" Internally Displaced woman at the ASK showground- Eldoret.

      Single women and mothers, unable to provide basic needs for themselves and their children were forced to engage in transactional sex in exchange for food, blankets and other basic amenities.

      Their married counterparts, though less vulnerable to external sexual aggression found themselves at the receiving end of domestic violence. Unemployed and displaced men released their frustration through spousal and child abuse. Some engaged in casual sexual encounters with other women in the camps in full view of their wives.

      Some women who had been raped experienced yet another trauma. Their husbands, unable to bear the shame associated with rape, and their own failure to protect their women, divorced them at the time when the women needed them most. Other women were divorced on grounds of belonging to the then “politically incorrect” ethnic group.

      Women watched helplessly as their daughters lost their innocence through rape or sexual exploitation. They were powerless, alone, abandoned, isolated, and felt unable to cope with the situation.

      The violence brought to the fore startling facts such as:

      -Serious abdication by the state from its duty to protect and promote rights and freedoms. For instance, Police officers whose mandate is to protect citizens were instead the key perpetrators of sexual violence on hapless citizens. This reality was made apparent when the Police commissioner in his statement to the Commission on Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) asserted that no reports on sexual violence were made to the police stations, yet his officers were among the perpetrators of the violence.

      -The status of women in Kenyan society is still far below that of men. Breakdowns of law and moral order during conflict exacerbate the situation.

      - Sexual torture of civilian women and girls during periods of armed conflict is an invisible issue, ignored by politicians and the world at large.

      Justice Waki, who presided over the Commission on Post-Election violence, stated: “Sexual violence is silent, and preying because it is underreported, under-investigated and insufficiently addressed.

      The Waki Commission was the first in Kenya’s history to isolate sexual and gender-based violence for special attention.

      - Personnel at government institutions are not adequately prepared to handle cases of Sexual and Gender Based violence.

      - Most women are unaware of their rights and their entitlements under the Sexual Offences Act.

      - There is lack of knowledge on post rape care measures among citizens. Many women who were violated did not seek medical attention within the 72-hour-window for post-exposure treatment to prevent HIV infection.


      With aching hearts and bodies, minimal medication and with even less counseling, the displaced women held on. They had a desire to rebuild their crumbled lives. Some wove baskets and sold them; others sold groceries and engaged in any available means of income generation.

      A year on, and as the rest of the country breathes a sigh of relief that the violence is forgotten, women victims of the violence are still trying to reconstruct their lives. Children born out of rape, physical scars, HIV, other dreaded sexually transmitted infections; widowhood, divorce, homelessness and biting poverty will not allow these women to easily forget the dark period. However, they trudge on, physical and emotional scars notwithstanding.

      As long as women rights continue to be violated during peacetime, then such violence against women during conflict is inevitable.


      - Address pre-existing conditions- underlying causes that trigger violence against women, e.g. inability to handle diversity (race, gender, and ethnicity), abuse of natural resources, political greed, etc.

      - Immediate implementation of the Witness Protection Act 2008-12-04 and domestication of the Great Lakes Pact on peace, security and development especially the protocol on suppression of sexual violence.

      - Political will is required to profile sexual and gender-based violence on a par with other serious crimes. Sexual violence is one of the worst things that can happen to an individual.

      Address the persistence of patriarchy in Kenya. Create ‘alternative masculinities’, that change the way men understand and express their masculinities, particularly as pertaining to power, violence and patriarchy.

      - End the deeply entrenched culture of impunity for sexual violence in Kenya. The CIPEV report recommends that a special tribunal be set up as a court that will sit within Kenya to seek accountability against persons bearing the greatest responsibility for crimes, particularly crimes against humanity, relating to the 2007 elections.

      -CIPEV report should be implemented in its entirety. Chapter Six of the CIPEV report, which is on sexual violence, did not indicate whether the sexual violence during the post election violence meets the criteria for ‘crimes against humanity’. However, it is hoped that the proposed tribunal will also handle sexual violence crimes, and that those who bear the greatest responsibility for sexual offences have been named alongside other instigators of gross human rights violations.

      -The Ministry of Gender should work with other ministries and agencies as well as non-state actors to create national awareness on provisions of the Sexual Offences Act of 2006 both within Government structures and also at grass roots level.

      Violence against women is not acceptable. We must refuse to live with it. It can be avoided and it must be avoided. It is a grave matter, which warrants immediate individual, national and international attention.

      *Ann Njogu is the Executive Director of the Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness of Women (CREAW).

      *Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at


      1. CIPEV report page 345

      2. Francis Kimemia, Permanent Secretary in charge of Provincial Administration and Internal Security, Office of the President, Exhibit 4A- CIPEV report.

      3. CREAW- Women Paid the Price- Sexual and Gender based violence in the 2007 post election conflict in Kenya.- pg 14

      4. Ibid pg 40

      Addressing sexual and gender-based violence

      Responding to the Waki Commission’s inquiry

      Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


      cc. Maruko
      Following the unprecedented focus on sexual and gender-based violence by the Waki Commission, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) reviews the commission’s findings. While supportive of its recommendations, KPTJ emphasises that the commission’s report is lacking in its focus on individual experiences at the expense of investigating patterns of conflicts, violations and violence. For the purpose of ensuring the implementation of these recommendations, KPTJ sets out a series of essential steps for the prevention and response to instances of sexual and gender-based violence, including greatly improved access to health and legal services for victims, and the removal of any form of amnesty for the perpetrators of sexual crimes.

      For the first time in Kenya’s history, a commission of inquiry isolated sexual and gender-based violence for special attention.

      The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence felt strongly about focusing on sexual violence first because it fell within its mandate, and secondly because it was horrified by the stories of sexual violence. Commissioners wanted to learn and expose what had happened with a view to deterring its recurrence.

      Before beginning its task, the commission listened to many specialist agencies on the best way to determine that gender-based violence occurred as well as ways in which it could reach survivors for their testimonies. Some 40 organisations in Kenya – which included groups from the health and gender ministry departments as well as the judiciary, UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent, and local and international non-governmental organisations – had come together to reach out to victims of sexual violence after the 2007 elections even before the commission had begun its sessions. This umbrella group had responded to the sexual violence in the post-election period, particularly against women, by providing medical, psychosocial and other services for survivors.

      The commission sought to know from the organisations if sexual violence had occurred, where it occurred, its manifestation, where to find evidence of it, and how that evidence should be collected.


      The commission then took five major steps. The first was to help locate and speak to victims of sexual violence in the post-election period from various parts of Kenya. The second was to ensure that the work on sexual violence was culturally sensitive, and to allow the commission to contact specialists as needed, it set up a committee from the umbrella group to work with its investigators in identifying and preparing victims who wanted to testify.

      Thirdly, the commission encouraged survivors of sexual violence to come forward, and in order to make it less painful for them to speak to investigators and the commission, two women investigators who had experience in dealing with sexual violence against women were hired. Fourthly, the commission allowed two lawyers who had experience in dealing with gender issues to take part in its proceedings.

      Lastly, because of the anticipated challenge of asking someone who had experienced sexual violence to relive it by testifying, a full-time psychologist was hired to interact with and assist victims before, during, and after they testified.


      The commission relied on the expertise of the organisations and individuals as well as the testimony of the survivors to make recommendations on how to deal with the perpetrators of sexual and gender-based violence.

      Many women testified to the commission in closed-door hearings, which accounted for 40 per cent of the commission’s evidence. Even then, the commission was aware that if all testimony from victims of sexual violence was heard in private rather than in public, the issue might get lost and never be discussed or flagged to the public.

      The commission noted that though known to exist, no male survivors of sexual violence came forward to give testimony.

      Generally, victims of sexual violence were too fearful to seek police intervention, not only because were the police otherwise engaged, but also because of discomfort in filing complaints with institutions they felt were associated with the perpetrators of the violence.

      Realising that it would be easier to find out what had happened in Nairobi than in the countryside, where a lack of anonymity and fear of speaking up might be a greater problem, the commission chose to focus on this area. Sexual and other forms of gender-based violence reached epidemic proportions in Nairobi. This area proved the most problematic in terms of determining the extent of violations.

      The sexual violence experienced demands immediate responses through the provision of more effective physical protection, especially in the poorer areas of Nairobi, where women and children faced and continue to face the greatest risks.


      Although government hospitals had established Gender Violence Recovery Centres offering free medical services to victims, most survivors did not know about them. The commission recommends that citizens be informed about them in awareness campaigns. Such a campaign has started in Mombasa and needs to be repeated in other parts of the country. These centres should be set up as departments in every public hospital with their own staff, facilities, and budget. Currently, they fall under other departments and rely on them for funding as well as staff, thus reducing their visibility and effectiveness.

      Every police station should have a gender unit that will treat victims of sexual violence with sensitivity, properly record all cases and investigate them. The current units are limited and sometimes only constitute having a woman officer available to deal with women victims. For such units to be effective, the security forces, including the police, have to change their attitude radically. Police require first-aid training, as well as skills on how to handle sexual violence cases, but only after mechanisms for accountability within the security forces are in place. An example would be severe punishment for police and other security personnel who commit crimes of sexual violence and those who mishandle victims of sexual violence dismissed.

      Non-governmental organisations working in the health sector should collaborate with medical institutions and share information to ensure a swifter and improved response to sexual violence. There is a low level of awareness about the possibility of help that victims of sexual violence can receive, and there is no pressure on law enforcers to do the right thing when dealing with cases of sexual violence.

      Parliament should pass a law to create the office of Rapporteur on Sexual Violence. The rapporteur will continuously highlight the fact that sexual violence is a serious crime and needs an equally serious response on the part of law enforcement authorities. The rapporteur should have appropriate staff and would be required and empowered to work with existing government institutions that address sexual violence, including the courts, the police, and the National Commission on Gender. Once every year, the rapporteur should present a report to the National Assembly outlining how cases of sexual violence were handled during that year.


      All these recommendations react to the situation, rather than providing a structural framework to address, comprehensively, sexual and gender-based violence. Preventive structures within the community setting are vital, rather than just ‘after-the-event’ measures.

      Overall, it appears that sexual and gender-based violence was not investigated with the same rigour by the Waki Commission as other kinds of post-election violence.

      Questions still linger about whether the commission could have done more to guarantee respect for the dignity of the survivors, assure confidentiality, and guarantee them more security. As it is, the Witness Protection Act is still not yet fully in force.

      From the report, it is not clear what impact the evidence received in private had on the commission’s conclusions. It is not clear from the report what sources of information or evidence the commission relied on. It would have been helpful if the commission had said which women and men gave evidence, and the type – whether forensic, personal or dialogical.

      The commission only consulted experts on gender-based violence on an ad hoc basis. Had the commission wanted to examine sexual and gender-based violence with the same lens as it did other forms of violence, it would have investigated it as a phenomenon that cut across the gender and sexual divide rather than as a ‘women’s’ issue.

      Various civil society organisations presented data and case analyses to the commission to enable it to investigate gender-based violence and seek ways of reaching possible witnesses. The commission’s report does not reflect the use of this information and even when it is touched on, the quality of the presentations is lost.

      Because the conclusions are set out in general terms, they appear to undermine the credibility and value of the report. In this respect, the commission falls short of the expectations in its terms of reference.

      Despite the commission’s specific mandate to investigate the causes of the election violence and make recommendations to the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, it does not provide an in-depth, factual and analytical investigation of gender-based violence. It is not apparent that the commission assessed itself to find out if it created sufficient and appropriate space for women to speak about their experiences. It is not clear whether or not women considered the commission as a safe public space given the danger of re-experiencing traumatic events, the fact that amnesty agreements signal that violence goes unpunished, and that perpetrators of crimes occupy powerful positions in society.

      From its report, the commission outlines the remote causes of the violence as being the growing politicisation and proliferation of violence in Kenya, the feeling of certain ethnic groups as marginalised, and the growing population of poor unemployed youth. It does not address the core question: What caused the violence? It appears to have taken no deliberate steps to discover the causes of sexual and gender-based violence.

      The report would have been richer if it had focused on delivering truths about patterns of conflicts, violations and violence rather than individual experiences.


      It is recognised the world over that gender-based violence is always widespread in emergencies. The post-election violence in Kenya in January and February 2008 witnessed the systematic and rampant use of sexual violence in various conflict areas and situations as a method of vengeance to brutalise and instil fear in the civilian population, especially women and girls. As a member of the United Nations family, Kenya should be guided by the measures taken to address gender-based violence in conflict situations, especially to the most vulnerable persons in society.

      The UN secretary-general has laid out Special Measures for Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse to prevent gender-based violence, including in particular sexual violence, ensuring appropriate care and follow-up for victims and survivors, and working towards holding perpetrators accountable.

      Besides increasing access to comprehensive survivor services, reducing the negative health effects of sexual and gender-based violence and assisting survivors to access legal service and protection, Kenya needs to reframe sexual and gender-based violence as a public concern. That way, preventive measures to identify women in danger before violence breaks out or escalates can be taken and protection offered to them.

      These reforms require a systems approach to gender-based violence. Institutional reforms targeting to educate and train policy makers and law enforcement officers should be a priority to improve policies specific to gender-based violence.

      Survivors should have access to forensic examinations, post-exposure prophylaxis for HIV and the protection of confidentiality through policies and protocols. There is also an urgent need to pass laws that are more sensible for professionals handling gender-based violence cases, providers and caregivers to file reports.

      Legal protection and social services for survivors is often lacking in low-income areas. There is a need for professional investigators, medical personnel and legal officers working in coordination.

      All public health programmes should be prepared to respond to gender-based violence by having sufficient supplies of services and preventive medicines. The government should put in place a forensic nursing system and install systems for data collection.

      Ultimately, community mobilisation can be extremely effective in preventing sexual and gender-based violence. It is essential for improving the service response for survivors.

      It is important to develop a best-practice policy and plan of action to strengthen the capacity to deal with gender-based violence. By building on existing policies and guidelines, including a best-practice matrix for gender-based violence interventions in conflict situations, Kenya can promote a coherent, participatory and multi-sectoral approach to prevent and respond to gender-based violence.


      In addition to the recommendations the commission made, it is important that the following steps are undertaken:

      - End to impunity for human rights violations: Investigate sexual violence crimes committed by civilians and government security agents and prosecute perpetrators.
      - Fast-track justice: Sexual and gender-based violence cases, tagged at a certain date, should be fast-tracked as a pointer that the state has ‘zero-tolerance’ on sexual exploitation and sexual gender-based violence.
      - Ensure protection for survivors and witnesses: Assess all cases and seek ways of addressing urgent health concerns, short-term and long-term implications as well as medical–legal and compensation of survivors of sexual violence.
      - Improve and increase access to services: Prevention and response for survivors at the community level through sustained support to key sectors including health, legal, judicial, security and psychological. A special focus on gaps such as availability of forensic examiners, legal aid and an expeditious judicial system, with a prioritisation of sexual violence cases.
      - No amnesty for sexual violence crimes: Completely exclude sexual violence crimes from any amnesty provisions, negotiations, or truth and justice processes.
      - Provide security: Women, boys and girls in conflict situations and in resettlement areas should be guaranteed protection to prevent the occurrence or recurrence of sexual violence through the provision of police stations, gender desks and increased surveillance.
      - Resources for implementation of the Sexual Offences Act: Allocate adequate resources for effective coordination and prosecution of sexual offences, as well as the interpretation and implementation of the act, together with policy guidelines for addressing sexual violence in times of conflict.
      - Protect other rights due to survivors of gender-based violence (GBV): Property rights for widowed women, HIV-infected persons and orphans should be guaranteed and cultural biases eradicated.
      - Community support: Set up community-based psychosocial support mechanisms for survivors of sexual violence and their families.
      - Arrest and prosecute all known perpetrators of sexual violence and implement the creation of a databank of known perpetrators.
      - Legislative reforms: Repeal section 38 of the Sexual Offenders Act, enact the Family Protection Bill, and implement the HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention Act as well as the Witness Protection Act.
      - Gender equality at the TJRC and all other commissions of inquiry.

      * This article was written collaboratively by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, working for equitable justice for all Kenyans.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Ethnicity abounds: Kenya’s identity crisis

      Mugambi Kiai


      cc. Teseum
      While all of Kenyan officialdom in political and civil society alike decries the endurance of tribalism, there remains a pervasive unwillingness to address the consequences of a phenomenon still prevalent across the country and with powerful implications for democracy, representation and stability, writes Mugambi Kiai. Though understood at a rudimentary level, the theme of ethnicity, argues Kiai, persists at the heart of the architecture of power in Kenya, the negative effects of which will only begin to be tackled through decisive action to consolidate widespread faith in Kenyan identity and citizenship.

      ‘But race is an issue I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now…’
      Barack Obama, speech titled ‘A More Perfect Union’, 18 March 2008

      When Barack Obama addressed America on the issue of race in March 2008, he could very well have been talking to Kenyans on the issue of ethnicity. For as he issued his penetrative analysis of the race question in the USA, the land of his father was awash with blood as a contested election result led to national conflict, ultimately costing close to 1,200 lives, displacing close to 350,000 others, and wrecking the lives and livelihoods of millions. The ethnic hue of the conflict was so strong that it led some to mistakenly suggest that what was happening in the country was either genocide or ethnic cleansing.

      In sync with Obama’s ‘racial stalemate’ in the USA, Kenya has long been prisoner to an ethnic stalemate. A vast majority of analysts agree that had he run for the presidency in Kenya, Obama would have lost on account of being Luo, the ethnicity of his father. Some, however, have even observed that he is not Luo enough, indicating he may not even have garnered a local ethnic constituency; a current, sorry, prerequisite to engaging in presidential politics in Kenya.

      One year later, Obama is the President of the USA in a development that is perhaps beginning to turn the race issue in America on its head. But in Kenya one has to really question whether we have moved in any direction other than backwards with regards to the negative ethnic paradigm, or more precisely, tribalism.

      A case in point is the contributions of young Kenyans in October 2008 at a meeting to discuss tribalism. One participant from the Kikuyu community in his very first remarks described the Kalenjin community as a ‘very dishonest people when it comes to land issues’. He stated that influential Kalenjin politicians were using the Kalenjin tribe to drive away Kikuyus from Rift Valley so that they could take over land. He went on to describe Luos as spendthrifts who always have their priorities wrong, have a sense of style and a firm political stand, a characteristic they share with Kikuyus. He characterised the Kikuyu as hardworking and serious entrepreneurs, and claimed that the 2007 presidential elections was used as an excuse to murder them.

      At the same gathering, a participant from the Luo community described Kikuyus as people who think that the country belongs to them. ‘They own everything then decide who gets what. While Kikuyus want to be industry owners, they want the other communities to be mere labourers, and markets for their products/services. Kikuyus treat other tribes as second-rate Kenyan citizens,’ he said. He went on to mention that there was thinking within his community to secede with other willing communities.

      This conversation is similar to one reported by Amy Chua in her 2003 book, World on fire: How exporting free market democracy breeds ethnic hatred and global instability. She posed the question: ‘Why have the Kikuyus been more economically successful than other Kenyans?’

      One response from a Kikuyu responds: ‘…civilization came early to our community when the colonial settlers settled in our land and introduced the start of the Kenyan economy. Second, the Kikuyus have a different attitude. They like to invest and try ventures, however small they are… We believe the worst offense… is to remain an employee.’

      A second states: ‘It is out of hard work. Hard work and confidence. The same reasons all other people become strong economically.’

      Another respondent argues to the contrary, citing the presidency of founding President Kenyatta (a Kikuyu): ‘your fathers and mothers had an unfair advantage vis-à-vis other Kenyans. During Kenyatta’s reign, he transferred all the ‘white settlers’’ land to Kikuyus. Please don’t give me that BS of I work hard and own my own business… Non-Kikuyus sat on the sidelines while… [Kikuyus] raped the country, denying other Kenyans jobs and land. We are all hard working folks and don’t think for a moment that your likes have cornered the market on success, by virtue of being Kikuyu.’

      Ethnicity and tribalism being untidy and dirty words, these kinds of conversations are never found in the national debate; they only erupt in the public domain at election time. That is when latent animosities emerge, as hate speech and hate SMS messages. Yet, conversations such as these routinely occur all over the country. They are the dominant social discourse, but are neither reported nor debated, nullifying any space for robust contestation.

      Publicly, all – from officialdom to those in civil and political society – agree that tribalism is nefarious. It is universally condemned in rhetoric. But this public rhetoric conceals a widespread reluctance to openly and candidly discuss and grapple with tribalism.

      There are at least three reasons for this. First, discussions around ethnicity are heavily tinged with embarrassment. Colonial and post-colonial socialisation has made out the ‘tribe’ to be a primitive anachronism, a vestige of backwardness that Christianity, Western education and the modern state are supposed to have ‘saved’ the indigenous Kenyan from. Any mention of tribe or tribalism, then, harks back to backwardness.

      Second, there is a ‘fear’ factor. Those who speak of, or about, tribe, are immediately labelled tribalists. Hence, there is guilt by associating with ‘tribe’.

      Third, the intellectual tools primarily used to analyse society – whether liberal (individualist) or socialist (class-based) – are ruthlessly dismissive of ‘tribe’ as a subject or site of analysis.

      This reluctance to open up, speak out, debate and wrestle with tribe, allows concealed hostilities to ferment and fester. Worse, it masks the fact that right before our eyes, tribalism continues to prosper, govern and rule Kenyans from behind the scenes. Despite the Kenyan state, the tribe remains a readily available platform for demanding, acquiring and enjoying rights, pointing to a post-independence dilemma around citizenship. The chronic and endemic inability of the state to meet its social obligations has meant that the tribe is what Kenyan political scientist Adams Oloo calls a ‘shadow-state’, delivering where the state has failed and providing for communal self-help.

      And here lies the conundrum that is Kenya’s Mungiki movement. On the one hand, it is infamous as an ethnic militia force, dreaded for beheading its victims. On the other hand, in areas where the state is absent, Mungiki provides services such as security, water, electricity and conflict resolution. In a country where less than one-third of the population engages with the formal institutions of governance, resort is sought within existing filial or tribal structures. There is even legal support for this. Multiple legal systems were established by the colonial state to manage the ‘native question’, and, in the vast majority of African countries, were not dismantled following independence. These legal systems have been consistently flagged by Professor Mahmood Mamdani as a primary cause of the continuing crisis of citizenship on the continent.

      At another level, ‘tribe’ has also been a handy agency with which to mobilise politically to make demands on the state, and has been key to vying for, and maintaining, political ascendancy in Kenya. In the context of Kenya’s zero-sum, winner-takes-all political equation, the coalescence of ethnic blocs provides significant political constituencies that no ambitious politician can ignore. This is heightened by the divide-and-rule political tradition designed by the colonial government to pre-empt any united, national resistance to their rule. That tradition was inherited and robustly engaged by all post-independence governments to cling onto power despite their political and socio-economic weaknesses. It is no secret that Kenyan politics is ethnically-based. In an analysis of the 1992 and 1997 elections in Kenya, political scientist Karolina Hulterstrom states ‘ethnicity was a dominant cleavage line in Kenyan party politics’.

      Hulterstrom also shows that national appointment and distribution policies in Kenya were based on ethnicity. She observes that ‘it would be an oversimplification, albeit a true oversimplification, to simply state that the Kikuyus were over-represented during the Kenyatta regime as were the Kalenjins during Moi’s presidency.’ She adds, ‘it can be decidedly concluded that there was a continuous ethnic inclination in… [the public appointment policy] in Kenya’ and also reaches ‘the cautious conclusion… that, while there were no signs of outright discrimination, there was an inclination in distribution policy towards certain regions during President Moi’s term in office – one of them being his own home region.’ The inequity continues in the post-Moi period.

      More emphatically, Alwiya Alwy and Susanne Schech, in their study ‘Ethnic inequalities in education in Kenya’ conclude that there is a ‘close correspondence of differentials between inequalities in education and ethnic affiliation to the ruling elite. Relatively small, clearly defined ethnic groups have accumulated an advantage over the majority in the national population, in terms of the education infrastructure and resources… ethnicity should be placed at the forefront of analyses of educational development in Kenya, as well as in policy efforts to reduce inequalities in education.’

      What happens then, to those who do not fall within the ‘tribe’? Those of mixed ethnic parentage are usually caught in the crossfire generated by the ethnic contestation. During Kenya’s post-election crisis, it was distressing to see the threat posed from all sides to the children with mixed ethnicity, especially those whose parents were Kikuyu and Kalenjin, Kikuyu and Luo, and Kikuyu and Luhya. Moreover, those Kenyans who do not subscribe to ethnic ideology and, during the crisis, took positions that were deemed to conflict with those of their ‘communities’ received death threats. And Kenyan Somalis and Kenyan Asians are continuously threatened with displacement and challenged to justify their loyalty and citizenship.

      This, then, is the lay of the land; pervasive and polarising ethnicity that hampers any meaningful collective engagement to deal with the critical national challenges of hunger, disease, poverty and bad governance. Following the agreements that resolved the post-election crisis in the country, a legislative bill to form a National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission was published, withdrawn to facilitate wider consultations, and then re-introduced in parliament. In it we find the vision of the government on how to resolve the question of tribalism in the country.

      Without vesting the proposed commission with any enforcement powers, the bill seeks to infuse it with only hortatory character. Its functions are reproduced extensively below to expose how the bill has been carefully and tidily crafted to avoid any meaningful intervention. These functions are to:

      - Promote the elimination of all forms of discrimination on the basis of ethnicity
      - Discourage and prohibit persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices on the grounds of ethnicity
      - Promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life
      - Encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities
      - Plan, supervise, coordinate and promote educational and training programmes to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities
      - Promote respect for religious, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity in a plural society
      - Promote equal access and enjoyment by persons of all ethnic communities to public or other services and facilities provided by the government
      - Promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and similar forms of dispute resolution mechanisms in order to secure and enhance ethnic harmony and peace
      - Investigate complaints of ethnic or racial discrimination and make recommendations to the attorney general, the Human Rights Commission or any other relevant authority on the remedial measures to be taken where such complaints are valid
      - Investigate on its own accord or on request from any institution, office, or person any issue affecting ethnic relations
      - Identify and analyse factors inhibiting the attainment of harmonious relations between ethnic communities, particularly barriers to the participation of any ethnic community in social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political endeavours and recommend to the government and any other relevant public or private body how these factors should be overcome
      - Determine strategic priorities in all the socio-economic, political and development policies of the government impacting on ethnic relations and advise on their implementation
      - Recommend to the government criteria for deciding whether any public office or officer has committed acts of discrimination on the grounds of ethnicity
      - Monitor and review all legislation and all administrative acts relating to or having implications for ethnic relations and equal opportunities and, from time to time, prepare and submit proposals for revision of such legislation and administrative acts
      - Initiate, lobby for and advocate for policy, legal or administrative reforms on issues affecting ethnic relations
      - Monitor and make recommendations to the government and other relevant public and private sector bodies on factors inhibiting the development of harmonious relations between ethnic groups and on barriers to the participation of all ethnic groups in the social, economic, commercial, financial, cultural and political life of the people
      - Undertake research and studies and make recommendations to the government on any issue relating to ethnic affairs, including whether ethnic relations are improving
      - Make recommendations on penalties to be imposed on any person for any breach of the provisions of the constitution or of any law dealing with ethnicity
      - Monitor and report to the National Assembly the status and success of implementation of its recommendations, and do all other acts and things as may be necessary to facilitate the efficient discharge of its functions.

      Thus, an agency has been created to do any and all manner of things related to ethnicity, save decisive action. The key to the problem is ignored; that ethnicised conflict is not due a lack of knowledge or understanding, to be resolved by ‘promotion’, ‘advice’, ‘education’ or ‘recommendations’. Rather, ethnicity lies at the heart of the architecture of power in Kenya. It is the centre of an inverted patronage triangle: at one top corner, an imperial presidency without any checks and balances; on the other top corner, a venal, predatory political class out to maintain or capture that presidency in its most unadulterated form. At the teetering bottom corner, a poor, disenfranchised population. How can a toothless commission sort this out?

      Under the umbrella of this illusion, we see plenty of motion, but no movement. Kenya has already tasted this with the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission which, by all accounts, has busied itself dealing with petty corruption, but has had absolutely zero impact on grand corruption. Indeed, latest reports of mega corruption scandals would indicate that grand corruption is not only in rude, good health, but positively thriving.

      Additionally, referring the question of ethnicity to a commission removes it from the offices where real power is wielded, making it easy to neglect or even ignore, while always using its existence as a shield when questions are asked about the government’s commitment to address the issue. Here, lessons must be learnt from Kenya’s past and vast experience with statutory and ad-hoc commissions, whose recommendations are routinely dodged, their reports shelved and left to gather dust. It is hard to believe, in this context, that whatever outputs the proposed commission produces will be taken seriously. For even those commissions that are vested with, and have used, their enforcement powers have had their rulings or determinations that are deemed awkward conveniently and contemptuously ignored. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights is a good case in point. What chance then that the proposed toothless National Ethnic and Race Relations Commission will be taken seriously?

      A simple alternative does exist. The president and prime minister could sign off on and drive a strategy which addresses the core of the problem. Within this strategy, there would be:

      - A public inventory – and thereafter an annual census – of all public appointments to evaluate the ethnic composition of public services
      - An undertaking to conduct all public appointments through a transparent, open and competitive process; and
      - An audit of public expenditure to ensure and effect ethno-regional equity.

      Furthermore, the two principals would need to commit to addressing the simmering land crisis that plagues Kenya – through for example the proposed National Land Policy – so as to deal with the issue of land hunger and historical land-related injustices. They would have to agree on steps – constitutional, legal and institutional - to de-link politics from ethnicity. For example through:

      - Having the President appointed on a ‘50 per cent +1’ voter basis
      - Reforming the imperial presidency
      - A design for decentralization.

      Additionally, the president and prime minister would inject a focus on citizenship and identity into the education and criminal justice systems, to address stereotyping, hate speech, and ethnic profiling.

      This strategy would provide for an advisory body reporting directly and jointly to the two principals on all the issues presented as the functions of the Ethnic and Race Relations Commission. It would nullify the need to create another commission while keeping the issue in the crosshairs of those who wield real power in Kenya. Finally, an annual nationwide survey would continue to evaluate the state of ethnic relations in the country.

      Only this kind of purposeful, results-driven intervention can instil trust that that there is political will to address tribalism in Kenya. Currently, however, one can only despair. In November 2008, a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Justice, Constitutional Affairs and National Cohesion resigned only a few months after his appointment. He gave, as his reason, a complete lack of political will ‘to do anything about national cohesion or even constitutional review’.

      And so, the dream of a united nation called Kenya is still held hostage by the reality of disparate tribal nations. Somehow, Kenyans must muster the political will to address ethnicity. The alternative is too dire to contemplate. As Barack Obama warned about race in the US, ‘if we walk away now, if we simply retreat into our respective corners, we will never be able to come together and solve challenges like health care, or education, or the need to find good jobs.’

      * Mugambi Kiai is a program officer at the Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) and the African Governance Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP). The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of either OSIEA or AfriMAP.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Grassroots activists take on the coalition government

      Out of touch with reality

      George Nyongesa


      cc. Paola Barbaglia
      Ordinary Kenyans are suffering from their coalition government’s lack of focus, writes George Nyongesa. High food prices, the attempted stifling of the media and increases in the cost of fuel all conspire to aggravate the hardship felt around much of the country, the author contends, a hardship that is all the more unpalatable in the face of tax exemptions for MPs. From the grassroots perspective, Nyongesa maintains, the coalition government looks decidedly out of touch.

      One year on, as Kenyans look back, there is one question we must ask: how has the coalition government performed?

      Following the national reconciliation dialogues held in January and February 2008, Hon. Kibaki and Hon. Raila, signed the National Accord which, amongst other things, created a new constitutional office – that of the prime minister, and set up a power sharing arrangement between the Party of National Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – the grand coalition government. In forming the coalition government, aside from traditional government functions, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga also assumed an extraordinary mandate clearly defined as a product of the preceding national reconciliation dialogues. In addition to the traditional seating-government mandate, the National Accord mandate included: exposing the past wrongs and punishing the wrongdoers; examining the election process; looking into post-election violence; and addressing long term social injustices.


      Apart from ensuring the government works, it is difficult to pinpoint any achievements by the two principals. Kenyans face the same problems they faced in the pre-election and pre-National Accord period, if not worse. When our country spirals downwards unmitigated it is hard to think of positives to the Kibaki–Raila leadership worth writing home about.

      Over 10 million Kenyans are ‘hungry and angry’ – suffering under famine they are reduced to eating wild berries, rats and tubers, and to feeding their children alcohol in order to cheat hunger pangs. Ethnic tensions over resources remains a reality whilst thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) still languish in camps. The IDPs are cold, hungry and forgotten – the women forced to exchange sex for food. Kenya remains trapped by the high crime rate that stems from massive unemployment and underemployment among its youth.

      Kenyans labour under untenably high prices for food, basic commodities and fuel. There is continued instability within the informal settlements. Teachers are on strike over pay, triggering unrest in schools, as political elites invest their energies in power struggles. Political impunity has escalated the endemic grand corruption scandals. This impunity is also articulated by the refusal of legislators to join the taxpayers’ army, the passing of the media gag law, and involvement of politicians in maize cartels (as Kenyans starve to death).


      At the end of 2008, Bunge la Mwananchi (the Peoples’ Parliament) convened its national grassroots leadership at Shauri Moyo YMCA in Eastlands, Nairobi.

      On the agenda were issues of immediate urgency:

      - Practical action to save millions of Kenyans from starvation
      - Resettlement and compensation for IDPs
      - Reducing the cost of living
      - Security in the informal settlements.

      Also discussed was the long-term need for a concrete ‘Marshall Plan’ to address the Mwananchi agenda, popularly referred to as National Accord’s agenda 4:

      - The creation of employment
      - Solving the land problem
      - Poverty eradication
      - Addressing historical injustices.

      Further, grassroots leaders reported how Kenyans wanted to see the implementation of the Kriegler and Waki commission reports to end political impunity, harmonise public servants’ salaries and allowances, review the minimum wage policy to ensure pay commensurate with labour, and resolve wage disputes for public sector employees.


      As early as March 2008, Bunge la Mwananchi, through its network of community-based organisations, led a street procession that drew over 1,000 urban poor into Nairobi’s city centre in frustration over their hunger from sky-rocketing prices of food and basic commodities. The procession’s rallying call was the demand for unga (maize flour) to be reduced in price from KSh120 to KSh30 per 2kg bag. As the protesters marched through Nairobi streets to deliver their petition letter to Prime Minister Raila Odinga, chanting ‘unga for 30’, the police pounced, beating up women and children and charging six grassroots leaders with holding an illegal assembly.


      Almost immediately after the signing of the National Accord, it became clear that the coalition government was applying police brutality, arrests, threats and intimidation against citizens who exercised their constitutional rights to freedoms of assembly and expression. Government security often violently disrupted lawful and peaceful public meetings and street processions before the protest message could be delivered. In the face of this repression, the Bunge la Mwananchi leadership sought creative ways to organise the citizenry to dramatise their dissatisfaction.


      When Prime Minister Odinga announced his homecoming party at his Kibera constituency, the Bunge la Mwananchi leadership held secret meetings with Kibera community leaders and distributed thousands of flyers to Kibera residents a couple of days before the rally.

      On arrival in Kibera, Odinga’s motorcade was met with chants of ‘Unga! Unga! Unga!’ During the rally, attended by over 50 members of parliament and widely aired in local media, Kibera residents broke a long tradition of passive listening. Instead, through chants of ‘Unga!’, they forced the politicians to listen. The political leaders abandoned their prepared speeches and talked about the people’s real issues.

      Odinga could not persuade his constituents to respond to his ODM party’s slogan of ‘Chungwa! Maisha bora!’ until he promised to look into the food situation. The following day he was met with similar protests in his tour of Nairobi’s Eastlands area. Reacting to public pressure, Odinga convened an emergency food security meeting to which Maize Millers, the minister for finance, and the minister for special programs were summoned. The minister for agriculture, William Ruto, had to cancel his ministerial trip abroad to participate. From this meeting the government came up with a ‘feed the nation’ programme to subsidise maize flour, lowering the consumer price from Ksh120 to Ksh 52(for the poor) and Ksh 70 (for the rich).


      Following the ‘unga for 30 shillings’ mobilisation, the clarion call was expanded to include ‘ushuru’ (taxation on MPs’ allowances). In the run up to Jamhuri (Independence) Day celebrations, Bunge la Mwananchi, in partnership with other civil society groups, organised a three-day civil direct action plan from 10 to 12 December. The direct action objectives were:

      - To dramatise food insecurity and the high cost of living
      - To demand that MPs pay taxes
      - To protest against the proposed new law to gag the media.

      The Jamhuri Day direct action was preceded by secret community forums, where citizens dialogued over pertinent issues and decided to make known their displeasure at the miserable performance of the grand coalition government. Thousands of Kenyans filled up Nyayo National Stadium on Jamhuri Day. During speech time, President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka were all met with the choruses of ‘Unga! Ushuru!’ from the crowds.

      The action culminated in one activist, Fredrick Odhiambo, terminating the president’s speech dramatically with an attempt to hand Kibaki a petition letter. Over 60 activists were arrested, including prominent radio presenters, for wearing black t-shirts that stated ‘No taxes for MPs: No Taxes For Us!’

      A week later, a similar attempt by Kisumu residents to petition the president and prime minister at Kisumu airport failed.

      Alongside the mass direct actions described above, Bunge la Mwananchi harnesses communication and media outreach strategies that include:

      - Writing petition letters to specific leaders, and posting them online
      - Writing letters to Editors of daily newspapers
      - SMS (text message) campaigns
      - Press statements
      - Public forums to communicate people’s issues.


      To our sadness, the struggles that Kenyans risked their lives for have not dissipated. In some cases, they have worsened:

      - Food: Although we campaigned for 2kg maize for KSh30, the government’s intervention gave us only KSh52 (for low income earners) and KSh72 (for high income earners). The questions millions of poor Kenyans are now asking is: Why the difference in prices? Why can’t the price go down further?
      - Hungry and angry Kenyans also ask: When will the maize for the poor get to the shops? Basic commodity prices are still high. Many families still cannot access food. And it is now official: the Kenyan Red Cross reports three deaths from starvation and President Kibaki has declared that 10 million Kenyans are at risk of death from hunger. Our media reports on the shameful state of thousands of poor households on the skip-a-meal programme. In all corners of Kenya, the question that begs answers is: Why should the coalition government stay in power if they cannot at minimum ensure food security for all Kenyans?
      - Fuel: While we campaigned for the petrol pump price to come down to KSh65 per litre, it has only been reduced to KSh79. Threats of fuel scarcity loom whilst the industry is still riddled with scandals. The government’s failure to purge fuel cartels and to regulate the industry strongly suggests that the profiteers are well-placed individuals in the coalition government. All factors considered, there remains no reason why the petrol pump price cannot be reduced to KSh65. In addition, an estimated 15 million urban poor use kerosene for cooking. Considering the already high cost of living, why can’t the coalition government ensure that the price of kerosene is further reduced?
      - MPs taxation debate: Taxes fund national projects such as roads, schools and hospitals among others. Kenyans who earn less than KSh10,000 per month endure compulsory philanthropy, through tax deductions from their pay, to pay for public infrastructure. Don’t MPs use the roads far more than the ordinary Kenyan? Why should poor citizens pay taxes to feed a ‘fat cabinet’ while they starve? Why are legislators, who used to be human rights activists, not leading the way in writing tax cheques to Kenya Revenue Authority?
      - Media: The media serves the whole of society and not just the politicians. The media has done well in its work of telling stories of citizens’ struggles, especially spotlighting legislators’ refusal to pay taxes. The assault on the media remains a concern in the fight to tame the excesses of political leaders and the state.

      WHAT NEXT?

      It is not surprising to see public opinion list food insecurity, corruption, unemployment, tribalism and poverty among our nation’s biggest problems. Overall, however, we have come to see that our problems can be summarised by two words: bad leadership.

      Our country is in the death grip of a calamitous leadership that has failed utterly to meet the most pressing needs of Kenyans. The never-ending bickering of the political class, the blame games and early posturing for the 2012 elections; there is an all-consuming greed for power. All the while, Kenyans starve.

      Kenya’s extraordinary problems require new thinking – creative and versatile. We cannot afford leaders with no vision and no dreams for the good of all Kenyans. We need a leadership based on values, principles and action – the unchanging cardinals of life.

      * George Nyongesa is a community organiser who works with Bunge la Mwananchi, a grassroots movement which aims to fight social injustice and promote accountable leadership in Kenya. He can be reached at [email protected].
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Truths missed and tasks dodged: Kriegler report is a half-baked job

      Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ)


      cc. Maruko
      Reviewing the misguided and inaccurate data informing the Independent Review of Election Commission’s (IREC) Kriegler report, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) offers its conclusions on the statistical inadequacies that have precluded the drawing of a definitive picture of electoral fraud. Without an effective research design to establish where and why vote counting inaccuracies developed, KPTJ argues that the IREC’s inferring of ‘materially defective’ results has failed to add anything meaningful to what Kenyans already know about what went wrong with the election process.

      The mandate of the Independent Review of Election Commission (IREC) was to answer a key question: who won the presidential elections? At the very least, Kenyans hoped that the commission would uncover whether or not intentional fraud was perpetrated. And how, and by whom.

      A doctor diagnoses disease by observing the symptoms of a sick patient. The commission was expected to examine a large body of primary evidence in detail, looking for patterns that suggested the causes of the failed election process.

      Unfortunately, the commission’s approach failed to meet the challenge confronting them.
      This failure was rooted in two key aspects of how its investigation was carried out.

      First, the commission either did not know of, or chose not to employ, the right tools for a forensic analysis of elections. Numerical skills are neither new nor untested in resolving electoral disputes.

      Second, the commission did not think critically about why and how fraud could have been committed at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC). As a result, the methods it employed to investigate the existence or non-existence of electoral fraud at KICC were wanting. Here are the main problems with those methods:

      1. The Kriegler investigation – specifically its analysis of the numbers – was not sufficient to enable it to draw the conclusion that all of the Electoral Commission of Kenya’s (ECK) results were wrong.
      2. The commission failed to apply modern methods in attempting to understand the ECK’s numbers, thus excluding potentially important evidence that the commissioners and the Kenyan people could use to form an opinion.
      3. The decision to examine only 19 problematic constituencies ensured that the commission could not determine whether rigging occurred at KICC.
      4. Given its resources and the time on its hands, the commission could have conducted research capable of answering the questions at hand. It appears that it did not know about the proper methods to use, or deliberately chose not to use an effective analytical strategy.


      After looking at the results of 19 constituencies – chosen because of complaints about them – the commission concluded that one could not rely on any figures from the ECK. This claim implies that the rest of the constituency results are equally flawed. It cannot be supported with the methods that the commission used, and demonstrates a basic misunderstanding of simple concepts, like random sampling, as well as an ignorance of more sophisticated statistical election forensics.

      The commission’s logic for not employing electoral statistics was then based on presumptions of ECK inaccuracy. The IREC stated that ‘[a]lmost all parliamentary and presidential election results for the constituencies sampled are erroneous, which means that very few of the officially published figures are actually accurate.’ The claim here is that because the ECK’s results in the 19 ‘sampled’ constituencies contained many errors, most of the other 191 constituencies contain similar errors. This claim is false. The mistake the commission made lies in the way it chose its 19-constituency sample. Because the IREC’s sample focuses on disputed constituencies rather than a random sample of all constituencies, its findings from that sample cannot be generalised to all 210 constituencies.

      To illustrate, suppose a farmer has 100 chickens, and he wants to estimate about how much he will earn if he takes them to market and sells them. He knows that different sized chickens fetch different prices, and he is not sure how many large and how many small birds he has. Our farmer decides that he is going to catch 10 chickens, and use those 10 to generalise about the larger flock. He does so, and finds that the 10 birds he caught are rather lean, with little meat on their bones. Crest-fallen, he sends his wife with the chickens to market, telling her not to expect too much given the sorry state of their flock. That evening, she returns, her purse bulging with money, and tells him that they did quite well at the market with all the large chickens.

      What had the farmer done wrong when estimating the value of his flock? His ‘sample’ contained the weaker, sicker chickens, since they were easier to catch than healthy chickens. As a result, his estimate of the nature of the flock was not accurate, and he should not have concluded that his flock was full of small birds.

      The choice to focus on problematic constituencies is understandable, but it precluded the possibility of drawing general conclusions about the results in all 210 constituencies.
      As a result, we cannot conclude, as the IREC does, that ‘very few of the officially published figures are actually accurate’.

      Demonstrating that the IREC’s sample is not representative of the 210 constituencies is quite easy. If its sample were representative of all constituencies, then the average of constituency-level characteristics in the sample – give and take the standard deviation – would be very similar to the averages of those variables for all 210 constituencies.

      This is simply not the case. In the IREC’s sample, Kibaki received, on average 62 per cent of the vote, whereas his average for all constituencies was only 41 per cent. In the IREC’s sample, constituencies tended to have much lower population densities, and many more registered voters. Likeiwse, in the IREC’s sample, the average percentage difference between presidential and parliamentary votes cast is 7.1 per cent, while the average over all constituencies is a mere 2.5 per cent.


      The commission claims that because ‘the official ECK election results (published on the website and elsewhere) have not been cleaned of mistakes of a purely arithmetical nature’, they should not be analysed. The decision not to use any more advanced statistical tests on the election results, believing them to be all faulty, was clearly wrong. Statistical tools exist to deal with messy, problematic numbers like those produced by the ECK. Thus, the commission missed an important opportunity to investigate the results for fraud in a more detailed manner.

      A number of statistical methods have been developed to assess this kind of data, even when it is as unreliable as the ECK’s is. The aim of such methods is to reduce the influence of anomalous data-points when estimating a statistical relationship between different variables, and to uncover the true relationship between variables, and thus separate anomalous data points from ‘normal’ data points. By achieving these two goals, these methods can enable one to estimate the actual relationship between two variables (e.g., parliamentary vote counts and presidential vote counts), while filtering out the impact of data points containing gross errors.

      Statisticians and political scientists have applied these methods to electoral data in the past. Recently, scholars have developed a method that identifies abnormal votes for a third-party candidate in the 2000 US presidential election. The IREC did not attempt to apply this family of methods to the Kenyan electoral data. Moreover, the Electoral Commission still has not released the polling centre level results needed for such an analysis.


      The commission claims that because there were many allegations of changes in statutory forms, statistical tests could not be used to catch the culprits. Yet statistical tests exist that can detect electoral fraud resulting from changes made in statutory forms. Unlike other approaches that rely on assumptions about past or concurrent voting behaviour, or set arbitrary thresholds for ‘unlikely’ voting behaviour (like high turnout), these tests rely on the tried-and-true patterns that appear in numbers like vote counts. If an official commits electoral fraud by changing a candidate’s vote count on a statutory form, these tests are likely to detect deviations from that pattern. The IREC appears not to have considered these methods nor applied them to data from the 1,702 polling centres that they examined in detail.

      Scholars have used these techniques on electoral data from Sweden and Nigeria, and found very little evidence of fraud in the former and significant evidence in the latter. In the process of its investigations, the IREC examined in detail the 17A forms, which contain numbers such as those these scholars have examined. The numbers were not subjected to statistical tests, tests which could have helped differentiate results arising from a normal electoral process, results arising from simple, unintentional ‘human error’ – like those resulting from mis-transcription or incorrect arithmetic – and results arising from intentional falsification. Unfortunately, even though they examined data from 19 constituencies in detail, the IREC did not apply these simple tests to the results.

      Given the IREC’s reluctance to rely on any source of data as an ‘objective’ benchmark against which to compare numbers reported by the ECK or other parties, one would have hoped that they would employ ‘industry-standard’ electoral forensics. They could do this by relying on well-established statistical facts like Benford’s Law to examine the veracity of vote counts and turnout numbers at the polling stations and form 17A levels. This kind of statistical evidence, combined with an examination of the inconsistent nature in which many statutory forms (specifically forms 16A and 17A) were filled out, would have provided a much clearer differentiation between fraud and incompetence.


      For the IREC to make effective recommendations on how to reform Kenya’s electoral system and processes, the commission needed to establish where and why vote counting went wrong. The finding that the results were ‘materially defective’ adds nothing to what Kenyans already know about what went wrong with the ECK, and provides no advantage in terms of what reforms make the most sense. Without trying to find the truth about what went wrong and why, the IREC cannot diagnose the specific problems with the ECK.

      At least two problems plague attempts to detect electoral fraud. First, differentiating between ‘human error’ and intentional fraud can be a difficult task. Using several types of evidence on the same area or polling station, however, can go a long way towards telling one from the other.

      Second, fraud can occur at many different levels, either independently or simultaneously.
      For instance, a presiding officer at the polling station might falsify electoral returns submitted on a form 16A. A returning officer might do something similar on the constituency-level form 17A. And a supervisor at KICC might adjust votes between constituencies at the province-level. A suitable research design should be able tell the difference between an honest mistake and intentional fraud, as well as differentiate fraud on one level from that on another.

      These requirements for a suitable research design have a practical purpose. Even if we accept the IREC’s assertion that figuring out who won is not in its mandate, without a suitable research design, the IREC would not be able to fulfil another key part of its mandate: to make substantive recommendations on the reform of the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

      Because it did not develop a convincing approach to understanding what problems occurred where and at what level during the elections, the IREC could not effectively differentiate human error from attempts at fraud, nor locate either of these phenomena at the polling-station, constituency, or national level. As a result, Kenyans received a report telling them much of what they already know: that the elections contained many problems, including bribery, vote-buying, intimidation, and the like.

      The IREC’s errors in research design may lie at the root of its unnecessarily vague findings. Was the IREC’s statistical research design capable of deducing whether or not there was rigging at the KICC, or at any other level, for that matter? To do so, its design would have to achieve two goals. First, it would have to differentiate between human error and fraud. In the report, human error is generally associated with a stressful and complex voting environment.

      However, these claims are simply theories. If difficult voting environments caused more discrepancies, then discrepancies should be correlated with factors we think cause ‘difficult voting environments.’ The IREC did not examine these theories using even the most basic statistical tools at the polling station or constituency level.

      The second flaw in the IREC’s research design lies in its inability to attribute errors – fraudulent or otherwise – to a specific point in the counting process. Given the IREC’s reluctance to believe analyses based on ECK data, it seems odd that its ‘analysis relied only on official documents and results submitted to IREC by ECK’.

      One could argue that, since the ECK may have felt threatened by the IREC’s mandate, documents coming from the ECK could have been manipulated to aid in its absolution with respect to fraud. We have no evidence of this hypothesis. However, if the IREC finds other analyses using ECK data unconvincing, why should the IREC’s own analysis of documents that had been in the possession of the ECK since the elections be credible?

      Speculation aside, if we assume that the documents provided to the IREC by the ECK are genuine, could its analysis determine whether or not fraud took place at the KICC? Again, the answer appears to be ‘no’. A basic point of departure for many criminal investigations is ‘cui bono?’: who benefits? Unfortunately, the IREC’s unorthodox sampling procedures prevent any meaningful inference about who may have benefited from the changes made at KICC, such as for example, the differences between the results on form 16 and the official ECK final results.

      Moreover, the IREC did not recognise the ECK’s opportunity to commit a kind of fraud at the KICC uniquely different from fraud occurring at lower levels. Only at the national tallying centre could a coordinated transfer of votes between constituencies, into rejected votes, or between candidates have been carried out. In order to detect such subtle changes, the IREC would have had to have examined the results of an entire province or even multiple provinces, a task they were clearly unwilling to undertake.


      Even before the IREC was set up, Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) raised four concerns with regard to the 2007 elections:

      1) Anomalies in election results documents;
      2) Discrepancies between official results and those published by the media;
      3) Suspiciously high voter turnout; and
      4) Discrepancies between presidential, parliamentary and civic vote totals.

      The main problems with the IREC report arise from two connected issues: anomalies in Form 16A and discrepancies between presidential, parliamentary, and civic voter turnout. There was no standard way of filling in these documents. Some were hand written, others were typed. Some had the totals crossed out. Some had the returning officer’s stamp, others did not.

      Results announced by Kenya Television Network (KTN) in almost half of the constituencies – 93 out of 210 – differed from those announced by the ECK. KTN’s figures are the closest to the most complete media record. Nation Media Group’s results database, together with its backup, inexplicably crashed and lost the result. The differences between KTN and ECK results total 208,208, with all three major presidential candidates registering both gains and losses.

      Using the 2002 general election as a benchmark, the average voter turnout is 70.7 per cent, and this could swing either way by 12.4 percentage points. This gives a maximum of 83.05 per cent and a minimum of 58.29 per cent as ‘normal’ turnout.

      In Coast and Nairobi provinces, constituencies registering under 50 per cent voter turnout – that is, unusually low – give a total of 14,242 possibly subtracted votes. In Central, Nyanza and Rift Valley provinces, however, constituencies registering over 80 per cent voter turnout – that is, unusually high – give a total of 150,212 possibly added votes.

      Using the 1992, 1997 and 2002 general elections as benchmarks, any variances between the total votes cast for the three polls within constituencies is usually 1.2 per cent, almost entirely accounted for by spoilt ballots. This is to say that almost all voters tend to vote for all three levels. This, however, was not the case last year, where the total anomalous vote between presidential and parliamentary votes cast was 455,667. The total anomalous vote between presidential and civic votes cast was 377,816. As the winning margin announced by the ECK was 231,728, both comparisons show inflations of the presidential votes sufficient to have altered the presidential outcome, given that the differences benefited Kibaki more than Odinga.

      The discrepancy in the results announced by the ECK is huge and, in many cases, suspicious – a fact the IREC agrees with but explains away by claiming that there really were no discrepancies at all. While the IREC attributes all contradictions to addition errors that, by and large, disappear once the calculation is done correctly, such a conclusion would depend on all the Forms 16A being accurate. There is no guarantee – or even likelihood – that the ECK figures and forms that the IREC examined were not tampered with. It is evident from the report that the commission did not examine the truthfulness of the Forms 16A.

      A report that says it is impossible to say who won the elections because the results were ‘irretrievably polluted’ cannot at the same time rule out the possibility of rigging at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre. It is not clear why the answer to that question should be ‘irrelevant’, especially since the commission concludes and emphasises that there was no evidence of rigging by the ECK at the KICC. If one relies on the ECK figures, one should be able to say who won.

      The IREC constantly assumed that all errors were a result of incompetence rather than fraud. Why should that be the more credible interpretation? Twelve out of 13 people who gave evidence under oath were from the ECK. Why did the commission not question more witnesses, including all the returning officers from the 19 constituencies that were closely examined? Why did it rely largely on ECK testimonies?

      The glaring discrepancy the commission displays when it comes to the standards for ‘evidence’ is appalling. While it sets rigorous standards for proving fraud at the KICC, it nevertheless uses sweeping generalisations as a basis for other conclusions. The entire report’s methodological treatment of sources is uneven.

      When it comes to the role of civil society organisations in civic education, for example, the report uncritically reproduces critical voices from meetings around the country. It does not specify how many people said so, who these might have been, where, on what basis and with what credibility. The same goes for the critique directed at international observers. Rather than substantiate and qualify the information it collected during the meetings, the commission’s report is full of ‘some/many…claimed/thought’.

      In Annex 4A of its report, the commission works hard to disprove every statement made by KPTJ in Countdown to Deception (a list of anomalies, malpractices and illegalities drawn from the statements of four of the five domestic election observers allowed into the ECK verification process the night before presidential results were announced). If the matter were not so serious, the commission’s bizarre obsession would be laughable. Yet, this attack raises serious concerns about the motives behind the IREC’s obvious hostility towards anything associated with KPTJ. Why is it that the IREC scrutinised KPTJ more critically than it did with the ECK, or other witnesses for that matter? The IREC’s very different and hostile treatment of KPTJ reveals Judge Johann Kriegler’s lie that civil society didn’t want to come forward with evidence.

      Another example is the exit poll commissioned by the International Republican Institute. In the absence of reliable ECK data, the exit poll is an important source of information for discussing conclusions about the results. However, the IREC dismisses the relevance of the exit poll with very general statements about the need to be methodologically cautious.

      While the commission takes note of abuse of state power and resources during the campaigns, there is only limited discussion of the role of the security agencies before, during and after the elections. More generally, the inescapable conclusion is that while the commission may be competent to carry out electoral analysis in a technical sense, it falls short of expectations in its political analysis. The commission fails to answer the more fundamental questions about power and responsibility.

      The IREC shies away from any discussion of these burning issues, and there is, therefore, no convincing political context for interrogating the integrity of the elections.

      More precisely, perhaps, the context provided in the report is highly selective. The IREC chairman has, in his public statements, alluded to a widespread culture of tolerance towards rigging. In line with this, the report states, ‘Kenyan society has long condoned, if not actively connived at, perversion of the electoral process.’ The troubling implication of such a description according to which everyone, from the bribed voter in the village to the ECK, is more or less equally guilty, is the way in which it tends to blame the victim and to remove most aspects of power and responsibility. It suggests that nobody is really more responsible than the next person.


      A few simple changes in the IREC’s research design would have enabled them to diagnose the various problems that occurred, without a significant increase in the cost or effort required.

      This approach would have allowed us to detect indications of fraud at the polling station and constituency-level, though not differentiate between the two, since vote re-counts would be required to verify the results of a given polling station. In addition, the approach would have allowed a clearer understanding of exactly how changes made at the KICC affected the outcome, after correcting for human arithmetic error on the 17A form.

      This approach would have been superior to the one chosen by the IREC, in terms of both diagnosing problems within the structure of the ECK – in the form of the presiding or returning officer, and the KICC and so on – and the spatial location of likely fraud. And, this approach would have obviated the need for time- and effort-consuming re-tallies from the 16A form at the constituency level. These criticisms notwithstanding, engaging a document-management firm to re-tally all 16A forms was likely well within the budget and timeframe of the IREC, and would have provided the most comprehensive understanding of how and where fraud and human error affected the results of the 2007 general election. But the IREC chose not to.

      There is obviously a story about the politics of the commission and how powerful actors may have influenced its work. Kriegler gave a clue of the interests at work when he was quoted in the Daily Nation of 30 August saying:

      ‘I’m not sure it is in anybody’s interest today to find out who won the election. The Government is functioning and the people have moved on. We had people who were enemies in the electoral contest, who seem to be getting used to working with one another, and the awkwardness is wearing off. I don’t think it’s in anybody’s interest to open the Pandora’s Box.’

      Such a statement throws considerable doubt on whether the commission actually sought the truth.

      It would not be accurate to say that Kriegler’s team did not do any work. Many of their recommendations are sound and echo Kenyans’ demands for a reformed electoral system over the years. Indeed, there is a need for a timetable and clear benchmarks for the rapid and full implementation of the recommendations.

      KPTJ cannot, however, share the commission’s conclusion that no rigging took place by the ECK at the KICC. In addition to the recommendations in the report, the Attorney General needs to start criminal investigations against the ECK commissioners.

      However unpopular it currently may be, it is morally and politically necessary to search for the truth about the elections. Some may consider it prudent and wise to ‘look forward and move on’, but it is highly irresponsible and dangerous to dodge the issues of electoral truth and justice.

      By sweeping truth and justice under the carpet in the name of stability, Kenya will be embracing continued impunity. This may turn out be the most damaging effect of the Kriegler report.

      * This report was jointly produced by Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ). KPTJ is a coalition of over 30 Kenyan and east African legal, human rights, and governance organisations, together with ordinary Kenyans and friends of Kenya, convened in the immediate aftermath of 2007's presidential election debacle.
      * A more detailed version of this analysis, with references and footnotes, is available from
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      The Truth, Justice And Reconciliation Commission: A flawed law

      Ndung’u Wainaina


      cc. Maruko
      Following the creation of two commissions by the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) to address both post-election atrocities and historical human rights violations, Ndung’u Wainaina considers the limitations and weaknesses of an amnesty process likely to disadvantage victims in multiple ways. Signed into law with minimal public consultation, the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC), Wainaina argues, possesses deep flaws that will ultimately block rather than facilitate the accountability and national healing the country so desperately needs.

      Kenya is at a critical juncture in its 45-year history since independence, caught in a desperate attempt to secure sustainable peace, justice and reconciliation after the violence that followed the December 2007 elections. In pursuit of this goal, the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) signed two crucial agreements, creating:

      1. A Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) to investigate historical gross human rights violations (2006 and earlier); and
      2. The Commission of Inquiry into Post-Election Violence (CIPEV) to address grave post-election atrocities (2007 onwards).

      Both bodies are non-judicial.

      It is worth noting that the KNDR process was negotiated and agreed between ‘The Parties to the National Dialogue and Reconciliation, together with the Panel of Eminent African Personalities, with a view to promoting the greater interests of the nation as a whole.’ This makes it mandatory that subsequent processes arising from the negotiation framework meet international standards. Accordingly, the KNDR process is an international, and not just a national, process.

      Public participation in the TJRC process right from its inception is critical in order to guarantee legitimacy and ownership by the people. More importantly, it ensures that the truth, justice and reconciliation process is carried out in a manner beneficial to Kenyans. To the extent that Kenyans are well-informed and able to meaningfully engage in the process, it is insulated from political interference and special interests. These conditions ensure a people-centred, effective and credible truth, justice and reconciliation process.

      The TJRC is a means and not an end to excavate Kenya’s historical injustices and gross human rights violations, and also to address economic crimes and land grabbing. It plays a critical role in shaping future Kenyan society. The establishment of a truth commission must be seen as part of an overall strategy to address massive human rights and humanitarian law violations. Often serving as an initial component of a broader effort, a truth commission can play a vital role in setting the stage for additional efforts to overcome impunity and promote reconciliation.

      No Kenyan wants the Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission to be yet another empty commission. Kenya had seen several commissions of inquiry over the years. None of these commissions resulted in any meaningful changes or reforms. Their recommendations were largely ignored by government. To avoid this, the TJRC ought to have sharp teeth, just like the Waki–CIPEV commission. The TJRC should not rely heavily on historically discredited and state-weakened institutions to achieve its objectives.

      Sadly, Kenya’s Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission bill was signed into law by the president on 29 November 2008 with little public consultation, despite protests from civil society. It is deeply flawed; state driven, state-owned, and skewed to resemble an amnesty commission. It omits the best practice and international standards expected in a truth commission, particularly the necessity of independence.

      The centrepiece of the law is an inappropriate and unnecessary amnesty mechanism for human rights violations, economic crimes and even international law violations. The amnesty provisions facilitate impunity for perpetrators in several ways:

      1. The legislation says that the TJRC will make its recommendations for amnesty to the attorney general. The attorney general has no constitutional or legal power to grant amnesty. This figure can ignore those recommendations or simply refuse to prosecute.
      2. The law has been left open-ended as to whether the attorney general is obliged or even legally authorised to cease prosecution for a crime on the basis of a TJRC recommendation.
      3. Further, the law empowers the TJRC to recommend to the attorney general amnesty in cases of civil proceedings and where persons have already been convicted, despite the fact that the attorney general has no legal authority to act.
      4. The law talks of ‘conditional amnesty’ without stating at any point what criteria the amnesty will be ‘conditional’ upon.

      Hence, the amnesty provisions as presently formulated are likely to invite protracted legal challenges.

      Victims are at a significant disadvantage in the amnesty recommending process. The commission will not recommend amnesty until it ‘has considered any reasonable objection from victims’, but it is unclear how far victims will be notified and involved, or have the opportunity to submit such reasonable objections, if a hearing into the case is not held. This is especially likely in the case of economic crimes, offering an escape clause to the powerful and the corrupt through the TJRC process.

      Major obstacles are placed in the path of the women, marginalised communities, and poor Kenyans in securing reparations. The TJRC is required to assess and make recommendations on individual applications for reparations from victims of gross human rights violations. The application process is cumbersome and likely to raise unrealistic expectations. How can such reparations be processed without an upfront decision on the scope of those human rights violations and the principles of reparation? In essence, the primary objective of reparations – a guarantee that the crime won’t be repeated – is completely obscured.

      The TJRC may recommend the ‘mechanism and framework’ for the implementation of its recommendations. The law requires the government to establish whatever body has been recommended by the commission ‘to monitor the implementation of the recommendations and to facilitate their implementation’. These requirements are manifestly unconstitutional, contravening the separation and allocation of executive powers as established by Kenya’s constitution. There is no requirement for the National Assembly to consider and debate the commission’s findings and recommendations; nor is there any requirement for the government to present its strategy for the implementation of the recommendations to the National Assembly.

      Two kinds of justice are called for in Kenya at this moment. The first is retributive justice: a full implementation of the recommendations made in the Waki report on post-election violence, particularly through the creation of a special tribunal to prosecute leading instigators, and a radical overhaul of state institutions. The second kind is reparative, for the historic crimes and human rights violations committed before 2007. An effective and credible Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) would pick up from where the Waki recommendations stop.

      Tragically, the deep flaws outlined above in the TJRC law makes it virtually impossible to deliver the accountability, genuine national healing and reconciliation that Kenyans are so hungry for.

      * Ndung’u Wainaina is executive director of the International Center for Policy and Conflict, Kenya.
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      A strategy for change:

      Maina Kiai speaks to Kwamchetsi Makokha

      Maina Kiai and Kwamchetsi Makokha


      cc. Teseum
      Maina Kiai, a former chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, was a driving force behind Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), formed in the aftermath of the 2007 election debacle. In an interview with Kwamchetsi Makokha, he takes stock of the year gone by.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: Are you happy with what Kenya got in setting up the coalition government last year?

      Maina Kiai: We wanted a limited coalition based on an understanding of the players. We wanted a limited time span for the transitional coalition government. The idea was very clear in our mind that if it was open-ended; you would lose the energy to reform, because people would begin playing politics with everything else. We wanted a maximum of two years – to put these guys in a room and say to them: ‘You must reform, and you only have two years.’

      So it was a huge disappointment when the coalition period became open-ended. It was the beginning of the end for reform. We all saw it when the cabinet was formed. The [negotiating] team stopped meeting at Serena [Hotel, venue of the mediation process]. There was no more interest. They got what they wanted and it was a huge setback. We had no control over it.

      The second indicator was when [President Mwai] Kibaki and [Prime Minister] Raila [Odinga] rejected a small lean Cabinet despite the fact that everybody, including their own supporters, wanted one… Again, the message was very clear: they are here to eat, and it is about replenishing stocks for the next competition, which is in 2012. So it is not surprising to hear about the scandals in government. In fact, I believe that if we could ask an internationally reputable investigator to come and look at the books of every single ministry in three months, you would find more scams than we are seeing now – and it cuts across both sides.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What do you think KPTJ achieved last year?

      Maina Kiai: There is nothing as effective as organic movements, and KPTJ was completely organic. Nobody planned it. We all gathered to try to figure out what to do. Even at the first meetings, it was clear we were all for peace but we were also not naïve to think that calm is the same as peace. Calm without truth and justice would only lead to redoubling of the issues that caused the fighting in the first place. Yes, we got a lot of flak from people saying, ‘Why aren’t you focusing on peace?’ We focused on peace but we understood that if we wanted to have real peace, then we could only have it through truth and justice.

      Everybody came out and made a big difference because we were clearly leading the only group that seemed to address every facet of the crisis. Some groups were trying to meet for peace or calm – that was driven, in my view, by a desire for money from the donors. Even the donor community was so interested in calm that they forgot that you cannot have calm without peace. Unless we address these things, our agenda is not finished.

      KPTJ reenergised civil society in the country. It had been struggling to find its feet but now, civil society is reawakening in a way that most of us are happy with. The comments about civil society being dead or collapsing are not heard any more. From the taxation of members of parliament to fuel prices, all the activities that have happened since have more ordinary people speaking up and coming out. It rejuvenated the sense of empowerment in the country. One of the things this country needs is for Kenyans to stand up, speak to power, and not be intimidated by it. I think KPTJ showed that very well and it is an important contribution. You cannot measure it in milestones and indicators, but its impact has been apparent over the course of the year.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What strengths did KPTJ bring to the crisis last year?

      Maina Kiai: KPTJ was good in analysing issues and presenting fact-based evidence. When KPTJ released its election data, it made a huge impact because it became clear that something was wrong. It was KPTJ’s work that has led to Kriegler’s work being questioned: you cannot convince anybody that you do not have evidence of rigging at [the tallying centre]. He did not bother to look for evidence. Of course, you will not have evidence if you do not bother to look for it.

      KPTJ put issues in a manner that made people understand what was at stake. Of course, those clinging to power saw KPTJ as working for the other side, but I can tell you for a fact that even ODM was not happy because we were not saying they should take over the government either.

      KPTJ was very clear – it was not about ODM [Orange Democratic Movement] or PNU [Party of National Unity], it was about us Kenyans and so the solutions we put forward were in terms of a 50–50 deal. So you end up in a place where you have to take a principled stand and you are accused because someone’s interests are harmed by a principled stand. It is like apartheid. You cannot say ‘I don’t like apartheid but I am not against it either.’ I am sorry; you have to be against it.

      Civil society must be very clear that never should it be in a position where it actually feels that it needs to be neutral. You cannot be neutral about evil or wrongdoing. The consequences of that are that once you are firm against wrongdoing, those who are doing wrong will see you as an enemy.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: The American ambassador endorsed the results at first. What do you think happened to change his view?

      Maina Kiai: I think the way it blew up shocked a lot of people. For whatever reasons, not even the international human rights organisations had anticipated what came to happen. I think in a sense the country and the world had been lulled to sleep by the 2002 elections and the referendum in 2005. We did those fairly and peacefully but fell asleep and imagined that we would do the 2007 elections. But the signs were clear.

      I was particularly pleased to see [American ambassador Michael] Ranneberger turning around because what he did was clearly unconscionable and wrong – more so because he was in possession of the exit poll results. He could at least have been equivocal, but in his case, he was very categorical. I am not sure if that was an agenda from him or from the US government. I think it still needs to be interrogated. The fact that as Kenyans we stood up to the American ambassador and said it does not matter – we will take you on – on principle, on what is right and wrong, that was very important.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What were KPTJ’s shortcomings in the past year?

      Maina Kiai: We are best in a crisis, for sure, but we are not as well organised as we would want to be. We do not fit together adequately and I think there are things that hopefully between now and the next few years we can reform. Maybe we can reorganise properly. It is a lot of hard, dirty work. It is unsung; it is unheralded and it is quiet, but we have to get going. There are many disparate movements today that must be brought together, otherwise our impact will never be felt the way it is supposed to be. Right now, if you look at the past year, in a sense it has opened everybody’s eyes about the real nature of the political class. There is anger and frustration out there. If it is not channelled into a social movement that people believe in and can see will lead to something, then the alternative is more of the same – if not worse.

      Our work has barely started. The work we did in 2008 was barely the beginning of the hard work that lies ahead. We have to be organised; it is a difficult and enormous task and you have to have the time, the skills, the courage and the funds to organise.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: Are there any lessons from last year’s engagements?

      Maina Kiai: I think the international linkages that KPTJ engaged were critical. The backdoor channels KPTJ opened with the Kofi Annan group were critical too. But the lesson is that not just one approach is sufficient. It is not just press conferences; it is also the back channels no one hears about. It is about keeping doors open, opening up to ideas. One critical lesson is that if you keep to this work, you open yourself to receiving information you would otherwise not get. That is a wonderful thing.

      The only thing we did not plan for was the security situation – that people could go to jail, the frustration that the state would find KPTJ a threat. I have done human rights work since the 1990s throughout [Daniel arap] Moi’s years and you always felt at any time, you could be either be shot or arrested. After the 2002 elections, I felt that that era had gone. One of the things I said about Kibaki’s tenure was that finally I could work in peace without having to watch my back or worrying about security, being shot or arrested.

      The year 2008 brought back the same feelings of Moi, of worry about what is going to happen. You had to be careful and because of the stakes there, I think the level of threat was way higher. One of the lessons we have to take at a broader level is we have to spend more time understanding the personalities of those we are stacked up against – the values that we push because a lot of the issues in this country, whether security or politics, are really about economics and are personality driven.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What has been the cost?

      Maina Kiai: Among civil society, differences have emerged based on ethnicity, which I think is good. I think it is important that we know who we are. For many people who were speaking out, it shook a lot of our relationships with each other, and with our relatives and friends. That is part of the price you pay when you stand up in very heated circumstances.

      But of all the costs, the security cost was the highest. Even at a monetary level. We added extra security and began to do things we never did before. So there is a financial price to pay and it also limits your independence. You start limiting your time. You cannot hold meetings in the evenings because you do not know what is going to happen after that.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: You were a target of numerous death threats. What was going through your mind?

      Maina Kiai: You know, you do not do this work to be a martyr. Anybody doing this work wants to live as long as possible. I cannot pretend there was no fear. Fear is a good emotion. You take fewer risks and you are not reckless. But what is going through your mind is, ‘Have things come to this, to the extent to want to kill me? What is it? What is holding them?’

      When they target people like you, that it reveals the extent of the problem. It must be very huge, and you have touched a raw nerve.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: Why you?

      Maina Kiai: Clearly, I was being targeted for three reasons. For a while, I was the face of KPTJ. Secondly, I am a Kikuyu and there is a sense that Kikuyus must stick together because we have to. Thirdly, I was a public servant and there is a sense among the political class that public service means sycophancy.

      I also knew that I had irritated them for a long time and clearly that is an important thing to do because those irritations were having an impact. It felt good that our work was having an impact. I am clear about my work though. I do not want to be taken out. This is not about dying, it is not about heroism either. You need to be alive to fight another day. I believe that you are more effective when you are strategic rather than reckless.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: How do you assess the implementation of the long-term issues of the mediation process?

      Maina Kiai: The politicians got what they wanted. Part of the weakness of this is that the structure brought up by Annan gave no opportunity for non-state actors to carry the people’s agenda to the table. It was clearly between two protagonists – it is the way it works when you have a conflict. The structures he built? When he left, the balloon deflated. It is a pity that the people he chose to take over from him have not been able to hold the attention of the political class. There was no timeline and no threat for failing to adhere to it.

      It would have been good to have a timeline, so that if it does not work, something else happens. Once they formed the coalition, that was it. The good thing for us is, looking at the report of the Commission of Inquiry into the post-election violence, Judge Waki wrote his report in a way that forces action. Because of him, even the Kriegler report had to be taken seriously.

      If he had done a nondescript report, we would have forgotten it and moved on. He also has the benefit of history. Had this been before the International Criminal Court, there would have been nowhere to go. It helps to have someplace larger than the country. It took control away from political hands. A lot of the anger is that you can’t influence, you can’t bribe them. It was interesting… lots of wananchi would like to skip all these and go to The Hague. What it tells you is the utter lack of faith in institutions. For me, 2008 said we have no institutions in this country. ECK collapsed, the judiciary collapsed, the police, name it. We had paper institutions and 2008 was a good slap in the face to remind us that we are banana republic – we speak good English and have a good coast – but we are a banana republic.

      What needs to happen?

      A number of things have to happen for us to approach the next elections with confidence. One is [implementing the recommendations of] the Waki Report. Impunity must end and the political class must understand finally that there is a price to pay and it is a serious price. We are not looking for a thousand people to prosecute; we are looking for the key players to understand that this is it. The ‘good’ thing about the Waki Report is that it touches people across the political divide, which is great for us because there is no victim, and there is no vanquished. So if we do not do the recommendations in the Waki Report and do them right, we are inviting disaster in 2012.

      Secondly, the electoral boundaries commission and the independent electoral commission and how they are formed or work will be critical. It is not enough to bring names into the electoral commission that have served in places. This country does not have confidence that there are people who are strong, independent and competent. The big trigger for our violence was the elections, so you must make sure that process does not invite any doubt whatsoever. The process and the people responsible must have competence, integrity, independence and strength of character. I am not sure if we have these people yet.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What do you think should happen to the dichotomy of vision in civil society?

      Maina Kiai: The beauty about KPTJ was its organic structure. The people and the organisations came together on their own and agreed on the agenda. I think that in a sense a similar effort has to come up where people say why are we doing these one-agenda things. Where can we go with it and what is going to be the result? We also need to look at some people proactively going out to these movements to bring them together. Some things happen organically, others have to be initiated.

      The people to do so must have the time, space, momentum and energy, come from across the ethnic divide, and show a national face. This group needs to be composed of completely new people, people who have never been politicians saying, ‘We are here and this is the face of alternative leadership in Kenya.’ We can then raise the standards and raise the stakes of what we get.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: What obstacles or opportunities do you see ahead?

      Maina Kiai: The openings are stark and the country is ready for change. Obama’s impact is unbelievable in this country. What he did was to demonstrate that anything is possible. He has made a huge impact on the world.

      There is anger with the political class. I am no longer at the level of reform. I am at the level of change, which is much more radical than reform. We want to get rid of what is there and put in new things.

      The biggest obstacle is ourselves, the limitation of our own possibilities. If we can release and open that up, we will be fine. Given the people, and the time, focus, energy, resources and the organisation, this country will change.

      It is about having a long-term agenda. We have to stop this business of making compromises and choosing the lesser evil. Let’s have a complete change.

      Kwamchetsi Makokha: How should civil society navigate the difficult relationship with politicians?

      Maina Kiai: You need to have relationships with the political class because it is a reality. But you have to always be on guard and to understand. It is easy to push for alliances. We can have a coming together of interests, but we are not allies.

      * Maina Kiai is the former chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.
      * A progressive writer, journalist and communications consultant, Kwamchetsi Makokha is the founder of Form and Content Consultancy, and a member of KPTJ’s steering group. He can be reached at [email protected].
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Get the planes ready for The Hague

      Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi


      cc. Maruko
      Criticising the Kenyan parliament’s failure to push through legislation to create a special tribunal to bring those involved in the country’s post-election violence to justice, Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi argue that parliamentary stalling simply reflects politicians covering their backs. Highlighting the political class’s efforts to escape punishment through defensive strategising, Wainaina and Ndubi reiterate that the tribunal was intended for justice for victims rather than allowing perpetrators to merely devise ways to forgive themselves.

      Parliament's failure to rush through legislation creating the Special Tribunal to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of the post-election violence is a direct result of the conspiracy by the political class not to do the right thing.

      President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga waited until the last day to sign the agreement to set up the Special Tribunal as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence. Their delay had a knock-on effect on the parliamentary calendar, ending in the rush to pass the law and constitutional amendment yesterday -- a move that would have excluded the victims of the violence from the processes of forming the Special Tribunal.
      Yet, the Special Tribunal proposed by the commission of inquiry, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, was meant to deliver justice for the victims. It was not meant to enable the planners and perpetrators of the violence to meet secretly in parliamentary caucuses to negotiate how to forgive themselves.

      The rush in setting up the Special Tribunal concealed several shortcomings in the proposed law that would have hobbled its work.

      The most glaring loopholes lay in the opportunities the Constitution gives people bent on escaping from justice to frustrate the work of the Special Tribunal. At present, the Constitution only recognises the Judiciary -- consisting of the magistrates' courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal -- as having the right to try suspects and convict them. Parliament has not insulated the Special Tribunal from constitutional challenges by making it a part of the Judiciary. Further, the Special Tribunal needed to be independent of the existing justice system so that its decisions could not be appealed.
      The Constitution also protects anyone from being charged with crimes that did not exist under Kenyan law at the time they were committed. In order to prevent suspects from arguing that the crimes they were accused of did not exist before the establishment of the Tribunal, Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to embrace crimes recognised in international law, and to which Kenya is a signatory.

      Additionally, Parliament had done little to protect the Special Tribunal from the powers of the Attorney General to take over and terminate any case. Nor had it limited the President’s powers to grant clemency and pardons so that they do not apply to convictions by the Special Tribunal.

      Apart from these loopholes in the Constitution, the law creating the Special Tribunal had five key deficiencies:

      1) Its failure to require that any person being investigated steps aside from public office posed the danger of suspects interfering with evidence and investigations against them. The police, for example, were heavily indicted in the Waki Report. What would stop officers implicated from frustrating investigations if they continued in office?

      2) There was no guarantee of protection for witnesses who would appear before the Special Tribunal. The law did not spell out how the Tribunal would protect the interests of witnesses. The current Witness Protection law concerns itself more with whistleblowers rather than witnesses.

      3) There was no guarantee of oversight by Parliament, the international community or civil society to ensure that appointments to the Special Tribunal satisfy the criteria of competence and independence. The law did not provide specifically for the full participation of the victims either directly or through representation.

      4) The questions of immunity and amnesty had not been addressed.

      5) There was a potential clash between the Special Tribunal and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission -- which ideally share a common objective. They both seek to promote accountability and end impunity in order to build a new society based upon respect for human dignity, democracy and the rule of law. The Tribunal and the TJRC are expected to work in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect, as equal partners. The potential for conflict needs to be diffused. For example, the power of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to grant amnesty can conflict with the Special Tribunal’s ability to prosecute without interference.

      Legal experts have proposed that Tribunal and the TJRC should enter a written, binding and enforceable agreement for the regulation of their relationship within 90 days of both bodies being established. No provision has been made for this in the current law.

      Kenya's political leadership, aware of its culpability in this matter, had been reluctant to embrace the establishment of a Special Tribunal and continued to erect roadblocks in its path.

      Overall, the process leading up to the debacle surrounding the establishment of the Special Tribunal did not meet the established thresholds for public consultation. It was shrouded in secrecy and was not accountable in any way. Kenyans had no knowledge whatsoever of the content of the law that was being tabled in Parliament or the Constitutional Amendment Bill that made that law possible.

      The effort to pass the amendments to the Constitution and the law within a day without giving Kenyans a chance to read and debate them smacked of an elaborate strategy by the political class to escape punishment.

      With the deadline for establishing a local tribunal elapsing today, Dr Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent of African Personalities should note the circumstances that have brought Kenya to this pass and forward the list of suspects to the International Criminal Court -- without delay.

      People who commit the kind of crimes witnessed in Kenya last year are increasingly ending up at the International Criminal Court if there is no reliable justice system in their country to prosecute them. Recent examples are the ongoing trial of Congo's Jean Pierre Bemba and Liberia's Charles Taylor. Kenyans should not be exempt.

      Parliament's failure to rush through legislation creating the Special Tribunal to investigate, prosecute and punish perpetrators of the post-election violence is a direct result of the conspiracy by the political class not to do the right thing.

      President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga waited until the last day to sign the agreement to set up the Special Tribunal as recommended by the Commission of Inquiry into the Post Election Violence. Their delay had a knock-on effect on the parliamentary calendar, ending in the rush to pass the law and constitutional amendment yesterday -- a move that would have excluded the victims of the violence from the processes of forming the Special Tribunal.
      Yet, the Special Tribunal proposed by the commission of inquiry, chaired by Justice Philip Waki, was meant to deliver justice for the victims. It was not meant to enable the planners and perpetrators of the violence to meet secretly in parliamentary caucuses to negotiate how to forgive themselves.
      The rush in setting up the Special Tribunal concealed several shortcomings in the proposed law that would have hobbled its work.

      The most glaring loopholes lay in the opportunities the Constitution gives people bent on escaping from justice to frustrate the work of the Special Tribunal. At present, the Constitution only recognises the Judiciary -- consisting of the magistrates' courts, the High Court and the Court of Appeal -- as having the right to try suspects and convict them. Parliament has not insulated the Special Tribunal from constitutional challenges by making it a part of the Judiciary. Further, the Special Tribunal needed to be independent of the existing justice system so that its decisions could not be appealed.
      The Constitution also protects anyone from being charged with crimes that did not exist under Kenyan law at the time they were committed. In order to prevent suspects from arguing that the crimes they were accused of did not exist before the establishment of the Tribunal, Parliament needed to amend the Constitution to embrace crimes recognised in international law, and to which Kenya is a signatory.

      Additionally, Parliament had done little to protect the Special Tribunal from the powers of the Attorney General to take over and terminate any case. Nor had it limited the President’s powers to grant clemency and pardons so that they do not apply to convictions by the Special Tribunal.

      Apart from these loopholes in the Constitution, the law creating the Special Tribunal had five key deficiencies:

      1) Its failure to require that any person being investigated steps aside from public office posed the danger of suspects interfering with evidence and investigations against them. The police, for example, were heavily indicted in the Waki Report. What would stop officers implicated from frustrating investigations if they continued in office?

      2) There was no guarantee of protection for witnesses who would appear before the Special Tribunal. The law did not spell out how the Tribunal would protect the interests of witnesses. The current Witness Protection law concerns itself more with whistleblowers rather than witnesses.

      3) There was no guarantee of oversight by Parliament, the international community or civil society to ensure that appointments to the Special Tribunal satisfy the criteria of competence and independence. The law did not provide specifically for the full participation of the victims either directly or through representation.

      4) The questions of immunity and amnesty had not been addressed.

      5) There was a potential clash between the Special Tribunal and the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission -- which ideally share a common objective. They both seek to promote accountability and end impunity in order to build a new society based upon respect for human dignity, democracy and the rule of law. The Tribunal and the TJRC are expected to work in a spirit of co-operation and mutual respect, as equal partners. The potential for conflict needs to be diffused. For example, the power of the Truth, Justice, and Reconciliation Commission to grant amnesty can conflict with the Special Tribunal’s ability to prosecute without interference.

      Legal experts have proposed that Tribunal and the TJRC should enter a written, binding and enforceable agreement for the regulation of their relationship within 90 days of both bodies being established. No provision has been made for this in the current law.

      Kenya's political leadership, aware of its culpability in this matter, had been reluctant to embrace the establishment of a Special Tribunal and continued to erect roadblocks in its path.

      Overall, the process leading up to the debacle surrounding the establishment of the Special Tribunal did not meet the established thresholds for public consultation. It was shrouded in secrecy and was not accountable in any way. Kenyans had no knowledge whatsoever of the content of the law that was being tabled in Parliament or the Constitutional Amendment Bill that made that law possible.

      The effort to pass the amendments to the Constitution and the law within a day without giving Kenyans a chance to read and debate them smacked of an elaborate strategy by the political class to escape punishment.

      With the deadline for establishing a local tribunal elapsing today, Dr Kofi Annan and the Panel of Eminent of African Personalities should note the circumstances that have brought Kenya to this pass and forward the list of suspects to the International Criminal Court -- without delay.

      People who commit the kind of crimes witnessed in Kenya last year are increasingly ending up at the International Criminal Court if there is no reliable justice system in their country to prosecute them. Recent examples are the ongoing trial of Congo's Jean Pierre Bemba and Liberia's Charles Taylor. Kenyans should not be exempt.

      * Ndung'u Wainaina and Haron Ndubi are members of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ).
      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Letters & Opinions

      Israel's march to madness

      Kola Ibrahim


      As the attack on Gaza get to its third week, over 800 Palestinians in Gaza have been murdered, including a foreign journalist while more than 3, 000 have been injured, some with live-threatening wounds. More than one third of those either killed or injured are children and women according to media reports. Moreover, tens of buildings and public facilities including a UN agency’s school, where over 40 children and women were killed, have been destroyed by the Israeli (but US produced) munitions...

      Stop apologizing for Nyerere

      Willie Seth


      Ethiopia was never a member of the Casablanca group. And Haile Selassie was not enthusiastic about Nkrumah's call for immediate continental unification. Nyerere offered to delay Tanganyika's independence so that Kenya, Uganda, and Tanganyika could form an East African federation. That was a Pan-African quest and a realistic approach towards African unity...

      The dawn of the Obama era: In memory of the ancestors

      Nii Akuetteh


      Congratulations, Dr. Zeleza. This impressive essay makes the case for me: You are not just prolific but erudite also. Under the impression that you are an African immigrant in North America, I feel special, additional (but unearned) pride because I am one too. Still, with your indulgence, I must point out a flaw: You were too uncritical of the admirably large number of analysts you quoted. Consider two examples, the first being Archbishop Tutu. I have met the good Archbishop, having chauffeured him during one visit to Washington DC at the height of the US Free South Africa Movement in the late 1980s. And I continue to admire and give moral support to his work. However, his passionate comments on Obama, while understandable, are over the top, in my view...

      African Writers’ Corner

      Manifesto Of Beginnings

      Shailja Patel


      ‘Manifesto Of Beginnings’ by Shailja Patel was commissioned by the BBC World Service to mark the one-year anniversary of Kenya's stolen election. The title arose from the questions in the poet's mind, ‘How do we begin to recount all the betrayals and broken promises? And where do we begin when the roots of the post-election violence go all the way back to before Kenya's independence?’ This piece was first broadcast on 27 December 2008 on the BBC World Service on The World Today programme, and is reproduced here as an mp3 file with permission. Visit Shailja at

      Emerging powers in Africa Watch

      China’s cultural interest in Sino-African cultural exchanges

      Maurice Gountin


      In the debates about China-Africa relations, the issue of cultural exchanges seems to be of less importance compared to questions about economics, trade, investment, aid, and exploitation of natural resources. Despite this, cultural exchanges have played a significant role in Sino-African relations, especially since the 1950s. As much as African countries have benefited from these exchanges, China has been a major beneficiary in two significant ways: 1) increasing investment and resources in these exchanges, and 2) through the active promotion of newly established Confucius Institutes across the continent. Yet the same cannot be said of the promotion of, African culture in China, which is largely absent.

      In the debates about China-Africa relations, the issue of cultural exchanges seems to be of less importance compared to questions about economics, trade, investment, aid, and exploitation of natural resources. Despite this, cultural exchanges have played a significant role in Sino-African relations, especially since the 1950s. As much as African countries have benefited from these exchanges, China has been a major beneficiary in two significant ways: 1) increasing investment and resources in these exchanges, and 2) through the active promotion of newly established Confucius Institutes across the continent. Yet the same cannot be said of the promotion of, African culture in China, which is largely absent.

      Therefore, the question that arises about Sino-Africa relations is that, after more than half of a century of friendship and cooperation, how much do Africans and Chinese know about each other’s culture? And, what has been done to promote a mutual cultural understanding between them?

      How do Chinese see Africa?

      Against the backdrop of the Forum on China Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) held in Beijing in November, 2006, China Youth Daily conducted an online survey on the theme: “Do you know Africa?” More than 5,100 Chinese respondents took part in the poll, of which 71.65% said they knew “a little bit” about Africa, 18.34 “knew Africa very well” and 10% “didn’t know anything” about Africa. More than 60% knew about Africa through reading newspapers and the Internet while 53.57% learned about Africa from their middle school textbooks. Asked about words associated with Africa, 79.78% selected “hunger”, 77.03% “primitive”, 70.91% “war”, 65.48% “developing”, and 33.11% “friendly”.

      The survey results cannot be said to fully represent the Chinese public’s understanding of Africa, but it does broadly show how the Chinese people perceive and think about Africa. A similar survey on China within Africa would probably not reflect a nuanced understanding of China – that is why there needs to be greater cultural exchanges between China and African nations so that a better understanding is cultivated..

      Some of the structures to do this are already in place. From the 1950s, China signed agreements including cultural exchange deals with newly independent African countries.. Traditionally, these cultural programmes focused on the exchange of Chinese and African artistic troupes, although the latter was not with the same frequency or scale as the Chinese groups.

      Prior to the economic reform and opening-up policy, the introduction of Chinese culture to Africa was basically confined to works dominated by socialist and communist cultural ideologies. As a result, the African counterparts in this cultural interaction only learned about the Chinese political culture but not the traditional Chinese cultural values. In fact, during the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese fought to root out those traditions perceived to be feudalistic and backward. Yet, the process of opening up to the world gave birth to reflection on traditional cultural values and its introduction to other parts of the globe. The very first Chinese Cultural Centres were established in 1988 against this background in The Republic of Mauritius and in The Republic of Benin. Another followed in Egypt and together these centers have from their creation to the present been playing active roles in the cultural exchanges between China and Africa. That role includes presenting lectures on Chinese culture, artistic exhibitions, concerts, Chinese kungfu courses, and information about China in host countries.

      China considers culture as a key interest

      In the 1990s, the end of the cold war cleared the way for a re-thinking of the elements of the new world order. American political scientist Samuel P. Huntington argued in his seminal book, the Clash of Civilizations, that “people’s cultural and religious identities will be the primary source of conflict in the post-cold war world”. This theory was not endorsed by many Chinese academics, and in 2001 former Iranian President Mohammad Khatami responded with his idea of Dialogue Among Civilizations. Whether it is because of these theories or a natural growing Chinese awareness or both, the Chinese have become more concerned about the value of traditional culture and its promotion, rather than simply stressing political ideology.

      Many Chinese think that, from the opening-up in the late 1970s to the present, China has been suffering from an invasion of western culture, a process some Chinese scholars have called the “westification” of Chinese society.

      Structuring Chinese cultural promotion

      This cultural awareness inside China gave birth to the “guoxue (国学运动) movement” (hot waves of the Chinese cultural values studies). Domestically, the “guoxue movement” was manifested in the creation of the Chinese Cultural Values Schools and Institutes (guoxuexi / guoxueyuan), the very first one established at the Renmin University of China on May 25, 2005. The same year, four other renowned Chinese universities including Tsinghua University, Peking University, Hunan University and Xiangtan University established similar schools.

      Outside China, such cultural awareness was promoted through Confucius Institutes, which carefully elaborated on Chinese cultural policy. The Confucius Institutes are based on the Western concepts of the “Alliance Francaise”, “the Goethe Institute” and the British Council that emphasis specific and important roles in cultural promotion between France, German and United Kingdom and the countries where the institutions are established.
      Following this lead, China set up its first Confucius Institute in Seoul, South Korea, in 2004 and that was rapidly followed by 190 Confucius Institutes in different countries. China’s plan is to have 500 institutes worldwide by 2010.

      In Africa, according to the Confucius institute official website, there are presently 15 Confucius Institutes and 4 Confucius classrooms located in African universities. These are South Africa, Egypt, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar, Liberia, Sudan, Rwanda, Morocco, and Botswana.

      China’s State Council also underlines its commitment to the introduction of the Chinese language in cultural exchanges around the world by authorising the Hanban(汉办), the Office of Chinese Language Council International, to manage and develop the Confucius Institutes. According to the project’s official website, Confucius Institutes are “non-profit institutes with the purpose of enhancing intercultural understanding in the world by sponsoring courses in Chinese language and culture, so as to promote a better understanding of the Chinese language and culture among people of the world. The goal is also to “develop friendly relationships between China and other countries; accelerate the development of multiculturalism at international level; help bring about global peace and harmony”. Many government-sponsored Chinese volunteers go to Africa to serve, including in the Confucius Institutes. Although these volunteers teach in hard conditions with poor facilities, they are rewarded when their African students can express a “Wo ai Zhongguo” (I love China).

      China’s interest in educational exchanges

      Another key component of Sino-Africa cultural exchanges is in educational cooperation. This interaction started earlier than the first diplomatic relations between China and African countries. Egypt did not officially establish ties with China until October 1956, but in January of that year, 4 Egyptian students and 4 professors were sent to China to study while 7 Chinese students and a professor went to Egypt for Arabic language and culture studies. The number of African students studying in China increased until the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution set back the cause. But from the early 1980s, educational cooperation resumed and more and more African students came to China on study scholarships provided by the Chinese government. However, only a very few Chinese students were interested in going to Africa to study. In 1998, the total number of Chinese government scholarships awarded to African students surpassed 1000, and is expected to reach 4000 in 2010, according to the Chinese Ministry of Education.

      All of these African students studying in China are expected to be future ambassadors of Chinese culture not only in Africa, but also in the international arena.

      Apart from the above cultural exchanges, by 2005, China and African countries had signed 65 cultural agreements and 150 cultural agreement plans were executed. In all, 50 Chinese cultural delegations went to Africa while 160 African cultural delegations visited China, and 170 Chinese artistic groups have been to Africa while China has received 100 African artistic groups. Apart from performing, the African groups have made appearances in the media, publishing, advertising, and movies, and worked with people in relics and museum management.

      In conclusion, cultural exchanges have been one of the earliest areas of cooperation between China and African nations. Along with the development of its domestic policy, China has gone beyond the confines of socialist and the Marxist ideology in its attempts to introduce Chinese culture to Africa. Its focus has shifted to promoting its traditional values in Africa and in the world in general. The increasing number of Confucius Institutes in the world but particularly in Africa is evidence of this commitment.

      A broad assessment shows that, compared to its African counterparts, China has invested more human and financial resources in the promotion of the cultural exchanges between the two continents, and has gained more from them. But, China’s cultural presence in Africa is still weak and China needs to strengthen efforts to ensure its culture is better publicised across the continent.

      The African nations are even further behind in promoting their cultural exchanges with China, not least because of the lack of financial resources and political will to do so. After more than 50 years of cooperation with China, Chinese people cannot see any symbols of African culture inside China. The continent is culturally absent in China. Therefore the establishment of an African Cultural Center in China is a necessary project, which will not only, improve the visibility of African culture in China, but also to satisfy the desire of Chinese people to learn more about the African continent.

      * Maurice Gountin holds a PhD in China’s Contemporary Diplomacy from Renmin University of China

      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at

      Unpacking Angola’s Beijing connection

      Lucy Corkin


      Vanguard’s documentary Chinatown, Africa , which premiered in late 2008 is a well-informed and multi-faceted commentary on China’s growing role in Africa. Given the heightened and often fever-pitch media commentary that reflects on China-Africa relations, it is refreshing to find a documentary that attempts to presents a multidimensional perspective to what has become parochial and controversial mainstream reporting. With Angola as its case study, the production team ambitiously sought to unpack the various elements of Luanda’s relations with Beijing.

      Vanguard’s documentary Chinatown, Africa , which premiered in late 2008 is a well-informed and multi-faceted commentary on China’s growing role in Africa. Given the heightened and often fever-pitch media commentary that reflects on China-Africa relations, it is refreshing to find a documentary that attempts to presents a multidimensional perspective to what has become parochial and controversial mainstream reporting. With Angola as its case study, the production team ambitiously sought to unpack the various elements of Luanda’s relations with Beijing.

      Chinese companies’ engagement in construction and infrastructure projects across Angola are widely documented, together with the speed at which these public works contracts are raised and completed. Indeed, one of the difficulties often cited with such projects is keeping pace and tracking of the Chinese construction workers who enter Angola as migrant labourers on these projects. While this is certainly true in many cases, there are some projects that do not seem to fare so well. From the documentary I recognised several building sites that have stood deserted and half-finished since 2006. Another, more recent example of delays is the phenomenal glass and metal confection that will serve as the head offices of China International Fund in Luanda and which featured prominently in the documentary. According to the Chinese site manager interviewed, the project was due for completion five months hence. When I interviewed Chinese managers on the same site a year previously, I was confidently told that President Eduardo dos Santos himself would be opening the building in February 2008. This is possibly because China International Fund Limited, having extended loans totalling, according to official records, US$ 2.9 billion, experienced severe financial difficulties in late 2007. The Angolan Ministry of Finance , according to a press release circulated in October last year, was obliged to raise US$ 3.5 billion in domestic capital from the sale of treasury bonds.

      This is the first time that the Angolan Ministry of Finance became involved in the China International Fund credit line. Accordingly, then, the documentary misrepresents slightly the convoluted nature of Chinese loans to Angola. In fact there are two parallel structures of separate Chinese funds being administered by different Angolan departments. While seemingly unnecessarily complicated, it is illustrative of the internal struggle among political elites to access the Chinese capital.

      Loans from China International Fund Ltd have been placed under the auspices of a specially created National Office for Reconstruction, known by its Portuguese acronym GRN and headed by General Helder Vieira Dias “Kopelipa”. Kopelipa is also Minister in Chief of the Presidency and a close ally of President dos Santos. The GRN was created in late 2004 specially to manage the CIF Chinese credit line and the large construction projects it was to finance. It is an instrument of the executive, as are the various other gabinetes created by the executive. The CIF loans, despite the official figure mentioned above are estimated in some quarters to be in excess of US$ 9 billion. The result of such a structure is that the money from this loan is centrally controlled by the Angolan Government executive. The NGO, Global Witness, has raised concerns about the transparency of the procurement process of construction tenders managed by the Office for National Reconstruction. This is despite the fact that the GRN was created in response to Chinese intelligence that the original Exim Bank loans (see below) were being misappropriated by Angolan officials from the Ministry of Finance.

      In 2004, during Chinese Vice-premier Zhang Peiyang’s visit to Angola, China’s Exim Bank extended an oil-backed US$2-billion credit line to the Angolan Government; the first tranche was payable in September 2004 and the second tranche in March 2005. . This loan was later increased by US$1 billion in March 2006 rendering China the biggest player in Angola’s post-war reconstruction process.

      In May 2007, an additional US$500 million was negotiated to assist with ‘complementary actions’. This, according to a representative of the Angolan Ministry of Finance, encompasses further incidental expenditures that will facilitate the integration of the newly built infrastructural projects into the national economy. For example, the purchase of school buses to transport schoolchildren to the newly constructed schools is planned for the interior provinces.

      The loan is intended to assist Angola in the rebuilding of vital infrastructure and is managed by the Angolan Ministry of Finance. In exchange for the loan, payable at Libor + 1.5 percent over 17 years, including a grace period of 5 years, China has secured 10,000 barrels of oil per day from Angola. The loan, which operates like a current account held in China under the name of the Angolan Government, is paid directly to the Chinese companies responsible for the construction work. The loan has placed China in a favourable position with the Angolan Government, especially as a much smaller amount of oil must be put up for collateral, as compared to traditional expensive oil-backed loans.
      Tied to the China Exim Bank loan, is the agreement that the public tenders for the construction and civil engineering contracts tabled for Angola’s reconstruction will be awarded primarily (70 percent) to Chinese enterprises approved by the Chinese Government. Of the tenders, 30 percent have been allocated to the Angolan private sector, to encourage Angolan participation in the tender process. As noted in the documentary, there are complaints that consequently not enough Angolans are afforded the chance to participate in the constructions works, thus mitigating the effects such large-scale infrastructure projects will have on local unemployment levels. Furthermore, in principle, at least 50 percent of all procurement for China Exim Bank funded projects must come from China. Given the expense of Angolan manufactured goods, everything down to the cement and nails for these works, as discovered by the correspondent, are imported from China

      As the loan is not classified as investment, Chinese companies tendering for contracts financed by the China Exim Bank loan do not have to register with the Angolan National Agency for Private Investment (ANIP) according to the Ministry of Finance. Instead, the projects financed by the loan fall under a Program of Public Investments (PIP) in the sectors of public works, health, energy and water, agriculture, telecommunications, the fishing industry and education.

      According to the Angolan Ministry of Finance, the projects allocated to each sector are managed by their respective ministries while the Ministry of Finance co-ordinates the process of fund allocation. Applications for projects to be financed by the loan are submitted by the various ministries, under the guidance of the Presidency. According to the Chinese Economic Counselor in Angola, Chang Hexi, the money is managed through a co-operation agreement between the Angolan Ministry of Finance and the Chinese Ministry of Foreign and Commercial Affairs (MOFCOM). Projects are determined by the Angolan Government, who must then present a proposal to the joint-committee of MOFCOM and the Angolan Ministry of Finance before it can be put out to tender. According to various observers from civil society, however, the Presidency has the overriding say as to where the money is allocated.

      Officially, monies from China Exim Bank managed by the Angolan Ministry of Finance total US$ 4.5 billion. According to the OECD , US$1.8 billion of the original US$2 billion loan from China Exim Bank had been spent by April 2006.
      Linked to this circuitous method of financing, is the recurring issue of transparency and accountability, mentioned by several of the documentary’s interviewees, representative, notably of Angola’s civil society. The concern is that the closed-door nature of the bilateral relations preferred by China with African countries allows no chance of public access to information surrounding the transfer of oil-backed wealth. This is exacerbated by Angola’s context as an oil state, where the government largely neglects its population, oil receipts more than compensating for the lack of a tax base, which would imply the need for public accountability. Furthermore, the IMF has famously reported that between 1997 and 2002, US$ 4.2 billion of oil revenue disappeared inexplicably from state coffers.

      What the documentary touches on is the cultural divide between Chinese and Angolans. Particularly as the relationship between China and Angola was initiated at a government to government level, less attention has been paid to the day-today interactions between Chinese workers and the Angolan man on the street. Casual exchanges are difficult, due to the language barrier, as evidenced by the comical and mutually unintelligible exchange between an Angolan and a Chinese barrier in the documentary. This has practical consequences, in terms of communication difficulties on a building site. Perhaps more seriously, it points to a lack of a common frame of reference which is both mutually isolating and frustrating and may exacerbate social tensions. Despite the reportedly high number of Chinese in Angola and Beijing’s evident engagement in the country, Angola is not one of the reportedly 16 African countries boasting a Confucius Institute , China’s answer to France’s Alliance Française.

      This is perhaps because Chinese construction workers are generally discouraged from mixing with the local population. With the increase of Chinese entrepreneurs and private individuals coming to Angola, this issue may come to the fore. Rumours of cross-cultural liaisons have been circulating and this is seemingly corroborated by an interviewee on the documentary. The elderly woman describes a young girl who was made allegedly made pregnant by a Chinese worker. The cultural difficulties experienced in a situation such as this are thrown into sharp relief when the girl in question could reportedly not pick out the father of her unborn child from a line of Chinese workers when asked to do so by their manager. Considered taboo by both sides, such liaisons point to the unexpected social consequences of a growing Chinese presence in African countries. Such incidents are not without precedent; several Chinese workers from the aid projects of the 1960’s are known to have settled down in Africa. Jean Ping, current Chairman of the Commission of the African Union has a Chinese father, a forester who came to Gabon in the 1930’s.

      The meta-issue with which the documentary grapples, is whether China’s engagement on balance, will be beneficial or detrimental to Africa’s development. Rather than impose her own analysis, the Vanguard correspondent looks to voices to be found within Angola. The Vanguard documentary interviews a wide variety of Angolans, ranging from Minister for Tourism Eduardo Chingunji in his air-conditioned office to locals in a rural southern village. Unsurprisingly, opinions as to Chinese involvement in their country are mixed. Minister Chingunji suggests that Angolan can be an ‘example’ for Africa. Indeed it is, although not perhaps quite in the way he imagined. Resource-rich countries, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, to Gabon and Equatorial Guinea have pursued China Exim Bank financing for infrastructure, using their natural resources as collateral.

      Some see this as falling into the pattern of colonial relations and mortgaging the future of countries desperately in need of sustainable economic growth. Others argue that such arrangements allow countries to finally access and exploit their resources in order to finance development. The net result? It may be appropriate here to quote Mao Zedong on his thoughts of the effect of the French Revolution on European history : “It’s too early to tell”.

      * Ms Corkin is a Phd candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at


      1. Press Release distributed by the Angolan Embassy in the United Kingdom ‘Ministry of Finance Denies Misuse of Chinese Loans’, 17 October 2007
      2. Interview with a director of a foreign-invested bank in Luanda, 7 June 2006.
      3. Integrated Regional Information Network, 2005, “Angola: Oil-backed loan will finance recover projects”, 21 February, available:
      4. Vines, Alex (2006), ‘The Scramble for Resources: African Case Studies” South African Journal of International Affairs, 13(1), Summer/Autumn, p. 71.
      5. According to Agora (6 May 2007), Chinese companies have been contracted to construct a total of 53 schools across Angola.
      6. Interest rate is quoted according to the Angolan Ministry of Finance. Libor, according to the British Banker’s Association, is the most widely used benchmark or reference rate for short term interest rates.
      7. Chatham House (2005), “Angola: Drivers of Change, Position Paper Two: Politics”, London: Royal Institute of International Affairs, April.
      8. Aguilar, Renato & Goldstein, Andrea (2007) The Asian Drivers and Angola”, Draft Paper, OECD Development Centre, p. 13.
      9. (9 December 2008)

      China’s reforms at 30 and the “Beijing Consensus”.

      Chris Colley


      In this essay Chris Colley of China’s Renmin University analyzes the UN’s new China Human Development Report. This report comes out as China celebrates 30 years of reform. Colley then discusses how the global financial crisis will affect China. He concludes by arguing that the “Beijing Consensus” model of development is unique to China and may not be able to be exported.

      December 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of China’s opening and reform. For much of the past decade China has been an engine of global economic growth. Its low priced exports have saved the world’s consumers hundreds of billons of dollars and its roaring demand for commodities has caused the cost of raw materials to soar, thus pumping billions of dollars into countries as far and wide as Angola, Brazil and Australia. It is in this context that the United Nations’ “China Human Development Report 2007/2008” (CHDR) was released. The document focuses on the current state of China’s development and provides policy recommendations to try and facilitate China’s ambition to reach a “moderately well off society” by 2020. This essay aims to analyze the CHDR and to examine whether or not China’s development “model”, also popularly known as “The Beijing Consensus”, can be exported to other countries in the developing world.

      The theme of the UN’s current CHDR report is “Basic public services for 1.3 billion people”. Chief among the goals to be realized are compulsory education, basic medical care and public health and some form of viable social security. In these areas China has made enormous progress in the past 30 years to the point where its current Human Development Index (HDI) score is 0.781. The UN calls this “very close to high human development”. This statistic must be compared to China’s HDI in 1975, three years before the beginning of the formal reform process where it measured 0.53. (The Human Development Index is formulated on the basis of sub-indices that measure the following three aspects of human life: life expectancy from birth, level of education and real GDP per capita). China’s people and leadership have enormous pride in their development and the Chinese model of transforming what was just barely above the low-human development floor in the mid-1970s to a country bordering on high human development has become the envy of many in the developing world. The Chinese leadership has placed great emphasis on reaching a “relatively prosperous society” by 2020. Zheng Bijian, considered the architect of the “Peaceful Rise” slogan, writes that Beijing’s strategic plans call for China to arrive at a “modernized, medium-level developed country” in 2050.

      Of crucial importance to a country’s development is education. The central government’s 2007 decision to make compulsory education free for all rural students is a major step forward in reducing the sharp inequalities that divide rural and urban China. This divide is best illustrated in the urban-to-rural per-capita income ratio, which stands at 3.33-1. When the distribution of spending on public services is taken into account this divide climbs to 5-6 to 1. This statistic represents the nation as a whole and does not take into account the regional disparities that exist between provincial capitals and less affluent rural counties. China’s leadership would like to boost education spending to four percent of GDP and has increased spending on education from 487 billion RMB in 2005 to 579 billion RMB in 2006- a 24 percent increase. However, spending on education still accounts for only 2.8 percent of GDP. The fight against illiteracy has also seen major success during the reform era. In 1980 the literacy rate was 67 percent, by 2006 it had reached 90 percent. While the definition of “literate” often differs by location, and the proportion of literate men has risen faster than that of women, the government has made great progress.

      China’s system of health care also differs greatly by location. Those residing in the big east coast cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Dalian enjoy facilities that are in many ways comparable to those found in developed countries. These modern facilities are not solely confined to the east as many provincial capitals and big cities also provide top rate care to those who can afford to pay. Nevertheless, the Chinese government’s policy of “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics” has been unable to provide many of its citizens with socialized health care. As of 2006, the government only covered 18 percent of the cost of health care, while personal spending reached 49 percent and insurance picked up 32 percent. This amount from the government is an improvement from 2000 when it accounted for 15 percent. The urban-rural divide is evident in the allocation of health care funds which in 2005 saw only 25 percent of public health care resources going to rural areas which comprise almost 60 percent of the population. The government is trying to establish a rural health care system, which would provide basic medical insurance to the masses. In the long-term this is critical to China’s economic growth and in the short-term, as the global financial crisis begins to seriously impact China’s economy, the government will have a very difficult time persuading ordinary Chinese to consume and thus drive the domestic market.

      The average savings rate among Chinese hovers around 45 percent. This is in large part due to the absence of an adequate social safety net. A serious illness of a family member can result in bankruptcy for Chinese families. Money that could be spent on consumption that would wean the Chinese economy off its dependence on exports is often stashed away for safe keeping in the event of a disaster. A 2005 report estimated that “extra discretionary personal expenditures on education and medical care have reduced total consumption by 581 billion RMB”.

      In fairness to China it needs to be pointed out that even in developed countries health care is never evenly distributed. Perhaps the best example of this is the United States where the number of uninsured regularly hovers just below 50 million Americans or 16-17 percent of the population, and this is in the best of economic times. When Chinese leaders like Wen Jiabao talk of putting “People first” and developing a “Harmonious Society” they tend to mean it. Beijing has plans to put in place a basic medical care insurance plan for urban residents by 2010. The Hu Jintao- Wen Jiabao administration can be characterized as being much more to the left when compared to the previous administrations in the reform era. The term “Harmonious Society” is often mocked by foreigners as well as by some Chinese for being pure propaganda, but it would be wrong to dismiss this as an empty slogan. China’s leaders are acutely aware of China’s problems. At its core the pursuit of a “Harmonious Society” is about reducing the gap between the rich and the poor. Some areas of China are faring well in this regard. Despite its shopping streets full of luxury products and BMWs, Beijing, when counting those who hold a Beijing Hukou (residence permit) is, according to the United Nations Human Settlements Program, the most equal city in the world with a Gini coefficient score of .22. In contrast, Hong Kong is the most unequal city in Asia with a Gini coefficient score of .53. (The Beijing statistic omits the millions of migrant workers who also live in Beijing and who are often denied the social services of formal Beijing residents.) What the Beijing statistic does show is that it is possible for China to find ways to more equally distribute wealth and perhaps more importantly social services. While Beijing’s Gini coefficient is remarkable the coefficient for the country as a whole stands at .49, while a study by People’s University in Beijing calculated it to be .56.

      Inequality in China is most evident when comparing urban to rural and from region to region. Even within the poorer provinces residents of the provincial capitals enjoy a living standard much higher than that of their less fortunate rural counterparts. The highest regional HDI was 47 percent higher than the lowest one and in cities like Shanghai and Beijing the life expectancy is now pushing 80 years while in poorer provinces like Guizhou it has yet to reach 70. In fact the HDI for Shanghai was .91 or comparable to European countries like Portugal, while in Tibet it is .62 or equivalent to many countries in Sub-Sahara Africa. In an effort to alleviate these imbalances the central government has been pushing transfer payments to less developed provinces. A major obstacle to localized rural development is the system of public finance. Many school, medical and social security fees are the responsibility of township and county governments who too often struggle to pay the salaries of their own staff, let alone engage in the finance of rural education. These transfer payments have been successful in many areas and are credited with facilitating the free compulsory rural education program beginning in 2007.

      With Chinese officials celebrating 2008 as the 30th anniversary of the reform and opening period, modern China has spent as much time pursuing market oriented reforms as it has with Mao’s version of communism. The World Bank claims that China’s economic reforms have reduced the poverty rate in China from almost 80 percent in 1981 to 18 percent in 2005. During the same time the number of people in poverty fell from 835 million to 207 million. This “economic miracle”, as it is often called in the press, is something that many countries in Africa, Latin America and other parts of Asia would like to emulate. The fact that the Chinese system is widely considered by both Chinese and non-Chinese to be infested with rampant corruption makes the success of the past 30 years even more remarkable. China’s middle class while still emerging has in many locations arrived. In October 2004, the Chinese Academy of Social Science reported that China’s middle class stood at 247 million people, or 19 percent of the population. They predicted that it would reach 40 percent by 2020. The criteria used to define “middle class” were family assets worth between 150,000 and 300,000 RMB, or based on the exchange rate at the time 18,000 to 36,000 USD.

      Storm Clouds on the Horizon?

      For most of the reform era China has been fortunate to have avoided a major financial crisis. (It did endure several political crises) The current financial crisis may be different. Empirical evidence that the global financial crisis has hit China can be seen in both Beijing’s decision to push forward an economic stimulus package worth four trillion RMB (586 billion USD) and more recently the drop in both China’s imports and exports. November’s decline in exports is the largest since 1999 and the drop in imports is the biggest since bankers began keeping records in 1993. Many economists expected exports to rise by 15 percent and imports to rise by 12 percent over November 2007. Instead exports fell by 2.2 percent from the previous year while imports dropped by more than 17 percent. This means that China is not as insolated from the global market as its leaders would like. The old saying that “when America sneezes, China catches a cold” appears to hold true. This drop in exports, which are a key component to China’s development, is compounded by 67,000 factory closings in the first six months of 2008. While many new factories also opened during this period, China’s Pearl River Delta may be beginning to loose it status as the “world’s sweat shop”.

      The Pearl River Delta is famous worldwide for the manufacture of cheap consumer goods. While the government actively encouraged this kind of foreign direct investment (FDI) into the region in the 1980’s and 1990’s, it is now looking to attract more value added products such as automobiles and computer chips instead of toys and tee shirts. Factories that were located in the Delta have either moved farther inland where wages are lower or have moved to other countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam. To compound the current economic situation, a stronger RMB which has appreciated by almost 20 percent against the U.S. dollar along with higher wages and new legislation strengthening workers rights have made doing business in China more costly. Migrant workers are already going home for the annual spring festival at the end of January. Many of these workers cannot find suitable work in the Delta region or are lured back to take advantage of higher grain prices, which makes farming more profitable. The fact that local governments and provincial government of Guangdong are in the process of moving up the value added chain in terms of manufacturing is testimony to the success of the regions economic reforms. Many of the region’s cities such as Guangzhou and Shenzhen have arrived at or are approaching the 10,000 USD per capita income bracket.

      It is too early to predict what effect China’s economic stimulus package will have on maintaining China’s level of growth. The plan calls for many new rural infrastructure initiatives as well as water, electricity and low-income housing projects. It is not clear how much of the 586 billion dollars was already earmarked for development. Health care and education, which take up only 1.8 percent and just under 3 percent of the country’s GDP respectively, have only been allocated 1 percent of the 586 billion dollar stimulus package. If a key goal of the Chinese government is to encourage domestic consumption then this may be a political moment for the government to seriously invest in some form of viable rural health insurance program. With less fear of unforeseen medical emergencies crippling them financially, Chinese families in both rural and urban areas would be able to devote more of their income to consumption. This would benefit both the domestic economy as well as create more support for the Communist Party, as groups previously sidelined by the economic reforms would start to see palpable benefits of the reform era. The government’s concept of “Scientific Development” and the promotion of a “Harmonious Society” would be benefited by this. In 2007, household consumption made up only 35 percent of China’s GDP, by comparison the American rate was 72 percent. Given the current state of the economy, the consumption rate will fall just when Beijing needs it to rise more than ever. In the past public works projects like roads, airports and dams took up economic stimulus packages. This was the case in the late 1990s as China sidestepped the Asian financial crisis. However, this time it is different, and while health care and education do not carry the prestige of superhighways or fancy new airports they are at this stage in China’s development more important.

      The financial crises will unlikely cause wide spread social unrest in China in the near future. (At least beyond what is normal in China) However, if it festers and begins to morph into a global depression, China’s lack of a viable social safety net will become a severe liability. Perhaps the Central government should see this as a political moment and thus an opportunity to lay a solid foundation for basic public services for its 1.3 billion people. Many in the western media tend to see China’s development as a glass half empty or largely focus on the negative aspects of China’s development such as corruption and pollution. This is a chance for China to show the world and more importantly its own people that the stated goal of “people first” development is not just an empty slogan. The Chinese path to development has been an inspiration to both people and governments in the developing world. How Beijing weathers the current storm is sure to be closely analyzed for its impact on China’s development model.

      Is the “The Beijing Consensus” exportable?

      The Chinese road to “a moderately prosperous society” is far from finished, but it has certainly lifted hundreds of millions of people out of abject poverty while also giving those in the developing world a model to try and emulate. There are many aspects of this model that developing countries can copy and modify to fit their own circumstances. However, the Chinese model of development as a whole is unique to specific Chinese conditions and is unlikely to be successfully duplicated in other parts of the world. With this said there are aspects of it that are present in many countries.

      There has been a lot of media attention both inside and outside of China to the idea of a “Beijing Consensus”. Some disillusioned with the “Washington Consensus” have looked to China as a model and inspiration while others have viewed it as an environmental nightmare that exacerbates class divisions while the well connected pilfer formerly state owned assets. It is important to note that China’s path to development was never mapped out in a grand plan. Deng Xiaoping, who was largely responsible for launching the reforms, compared the reforms to “crossing the river by feeling the stones”. In other words there was no articulated step-by-step plan to reach the goal of a developed society. While China does in many ways have a top down development strategy and the government has promoted certain sectors of the economy through both cash infusions from state owned banks and through tax incentives, reform has been a rough ride. The fact that the “Beijing Consensus” rests on a policy of “non-interference” in a country’s internal affairs is an added advantage to many authoritarian leaders. The idea of achieving rapid economic growth while preserving one party rule is attractive to many leaders who do not share the West’s democratic ideals. However, several key factors that were all present in China have made this “Beijing Consensus” come to fruition. First, China 30 years ago had an enormous population that was poor by global standards. Second, China’s geographic location and close proximity to Hong Kong were instrumental in its early success. Third, the role of the Chinese Diaspora in terms of FDI was important. Finally, China’s political system itself was a major factor in its development. These four factors are found in China, but may not be present in other countries, thus limiting the chances of China’s model being exported in full.

      One of China’s most important assets is its enormous population. This population, of which the vast majority was rural, played a key role in the establishment of manufacturing centers in the Pearl River Delta. China seemed to offer an unlimited source of cheap and too often exploitable labor. China’s migrant labor force, thought to number roughly 200 million people today, has been crucial to China’s economic success. In fact one study stated that 24 percent of China’s GDP is derived from migrant workers. When one group of workers would either become too skilled, too expensive or found another job there were always more workers fresh from the countryside willing to take their jobs. This limitless source of labor only added to China’s competitive advantage. It must be noted that migrant workers are found throughout China and are engaged in everything from construction work in Shanghai to agricultural laborers on cotton farms in the far western province of Xinjiang. While many developing countries do have tens if not hundreds of millions of rural poor, few have an economic engine like Hong Kong next door to serve as a launch pad for FDI.

      The Pearl River Delta’s close proximity to Hong Kong was a major reason why Deng Xiaoping chose to experiment with certain reforms in this area. Hong Kong’s geographic location along with linguistic and cultural ties made it a great place to serve as a gateway to the Chinese market. In addition, Hong Kong had the legal foundation as well as business and managerial experience that made it even more attractive as a staging area for investment. From the time period of 1979 until 1995, 233 billion U.S. dollars or 59 percent of all FDI into China was funneled into the Chinese mainland through Hong Kong. This number fell to 140 billion or 32 percent from 1996 to 2002. The overall value of having this dynamo next door to China is impossible to calculate, but it is one key aspect that is commonly overlooked when comparing developmental models. The question one must ask is does Africa or Latin America have their own version of Hong Kong?

      The role of the Chinese Diaspora was also a key factor in China’s development. It is difficult to gauge exactly how much FDI entering China was of Diaspora origin. Large amounts of cash coming through Hong Kong, and the Virgin Islands came from Taiwan. Because of Taiwanese government rules prohibiting certain investments in the Mainland, many Taiwanese businessmen invested through third countries. The African, South Asian and Latin American Diaspora do conduct business in their countries of ancestry, however they do not approach the levels of China.

      Finally and perhaps most importantly the Chinese government had the political will and the leadership to make China’s economic miracle work. In many ways these policies focus on economic growth above all else, to the detriment of the environment, labor rights, civil society and any other factor that could impede economic growth. (It should be noted that this situation is starting to change and China’s civil society is beginning to take root especially in economically prosperous cities.) The fact that China is not a democratic society did help it in certain respects. The lack of a real political opposition meant that the Communist Party was able to do as it pleased in its modernization drive. For example if a road or dam needed to be built the party almost always was the ultimate arbitrator in the decision. While in some countries such as India a road might be delayed for months or even years because of local opposition, in China it is very difficult to halt such a project. The absence of an independent judiciary means that the Communist Party at the end of the day has the final say. This is not the case in many countries that are poor, but do have effective judicial oversight and a press that is willing to openly challenge the government. The Chinese media are increasingly willing to expose official misconduct, but they can and do get shutdown for pushing the line too far.

      While these four examples are not the whole story of China’s development they are critical to understanding some of the necessary conditions needed for the “Beijing Consensus”. It is important to note that the Chinese government does not say much on exporting China’s developmental model. It is the media that play up the story. Beijing does not want to be seen as challenging the West and in particular Washington for global leadership. An active promotion of China’s development model would go against China’s policy of “maintaining a low profile” which is part of the foundation of China’s new diplomacy. Of equal importance many Chinese stress that each country must adopt a mode of development that is suitable to their specific conditions. Deng Xiaoping stressed this point to Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings in 1985 by telling him, “Please don't copy our model. If there is any experience on our part, it is to formulate policies in light of one's own national conditions.” Perhaps part of Beijing’s reluctance to push their model is that they do not want to be held responsible for a model that fails.

      A top Beijing academic in the field of International Relations does not believe that this is a model that can be easily copied. He suggested that it was too early to decide if there even is a “Beijing Consensus”, and that China’s development model is China specific and is not useful to other countries. The China model does offer an alternative to the Washington Consensus. However, the circumstances surrounding China’s rise are difficult if not impossible to copy. The term “Beijing Consensus” gives a false impression that China’s model is one size fits all. This is not the case even in different parts of China much less Mozambique. Developing countries are wise to study China and take from China piece by piece what will benefit their own countries. For a country to take on the China model wholeheartedly without paying attention to their own circumstances would likely result in the same kinds of failures and disappointments that accompanied another development model named after another capital city, this one in the West.

      * Chris Colley is a lecturer at Renmin (People’s) University’s School of International Studies in Beijing. He has lived in China since 2002.

      * Please send comments to [email protected] or comment online at


      i.“China Human Development Report 2007/08”. United Nations Development Program- Beijing. Page 4. China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Beijing. November 2008.
      ii. Bijian, Zheng. “China’s “Peaceful Rise” to Great-Power Status” Page 21. Foreign Affairs. September/October 2005.
      iii. “China Human Development Report 2007/08”. United Nations Development Program- Beijing. Page 33. China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Beijing. November 2008.
      iv. Ibid. Page 43.
      v. Ibid. Page 8.
      Ibid. Pages 48-52.
      vi. Anderson, John. “China’s True Growth: No Myth or Miracle”. Page 13. Far Eastern Economic Review. September 2006.
      vii. “China Human Development Report 2007/08”. United Nations Development Program- Beijing. Page 32. China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Beijing. November 2008.
      viii. “State of the World’s Cities 2008/2009” Press Release. United Nations Human Settlements Programme. Nairobi Kenya.
      xv.Fewsmith, Joseph. “Assessing Social Stability on the Eve of the 17th Party Congress.” China Leadership Monitor, No. 20. Winter 2007.
      x. “China Human Development Report 2007/08”. United Nations Development Program- Beijing. Page 20. China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Beijing. November 2008.
      xi. Ibid. Page 139. .
      xii. Wroughton, Lesley. “More people living below poverty line- World Bank.” Reuters. August 26, 2008. Accessed on December 12, 2008.
      xiii. Zhigang, Xin. “Dissecting China’ Middle Class.” China Daily. October 27, 2004. Accessed on December 12, 2008.
      xiv. Chiang, Langi, Xin, Zhou. “China’s exports, imports fall as economy hits wall”. Reuters. December 11, 2008. Accessed on December 14, 2008.
      xv. Wong, Edward. “Factories Shut, China’s Workers are Suffering.” The New York Times. November 13, 2008. Accessed on December 14, 2008.
      xvi. Barboza, David. “China Unveils Sweeping Plan for Economy”. The New York Times. Novemebr 9, 2008. Accessed on December 14, 2008.
      xvii. Wheatly, Alan. “China economy at crossroads after 30 years of reform”. Reuters. December 13, 2008. Accessed on December 14, 2008.
      xviii. Ibid
      xix. “China Human Development Report 2007/08”. United Nations Development Program- Beijing. Page 128. China Translation and Publishing Corporation. Beijing. November 2008.
      xx. Chang, Ka-mun. Enright, Scott, E Edith. Enright, J Miachael. Regional Powerhouse: The Greater Pearl River Delta and the Rise of China. Page 22. John Wiley and Sons. Singapore. 2005.
      xxi. Dialogue “Accountability comes under scrutiny”. CCTV 9. November 22, 2008.
      xxii. Zang, Wei-Wei. “The allure of the Chinese model.” International Herald Tribune. November 1, 2006. Accessed on December 22, 2008.
      xxiii. Author’s personal conversation. Beijing. November 2008.

      Liberia signs $2.6 billion mining agreement with Chinese company


      The Liberian government has signed a $2.6 billion agreement with a Chinese company, China Union, to excavate for iron ore at the country's western former Bong Mines. The agreement, signed Thursday, is said to be the biggest ever investment in Liberia.

      Anniversaries and uncertainties


      As China enters the “Year of the Ox”, there is much to reflect on from the past 12 months and even more to speculate about regarding the coming year. 2008 began with devastating snowstorms that paralysed most of central and southern China’s transport system, interrupting lives and causing severe material damage. Then came the riots in Tibet, which caught the government off guard, followed by embarrassing protests over China’s Olympic torch relay in several Western and Asian countries.

      China to fully implement promises made at China-Africa Forum


      China will fully implement the eight measures for China-Africa practical cooperation agreed at the Beijing Summit of Forum on China-Africa Cooperation despite the ongoing global financial crisis, Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun said Thursday.

      Nigeria scraps oil exploration deal with Korea


      The Nigerian government has abruptly cancelled Korea's concession to explore oil fields off the shore of the African country, the Korea National Oil Corporation said Thursday. The contract for blocks OPL 321 and 323 was signed by former president Roh Moo-hyun and then Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo during Roh’s visit there in March 2006.

      China may expand Africa zero import tariff policy


      China is considering including more African goods in a list of products excluded from import tariffs as a way of further boosting trade with the continent, state media said on Sunday. China already levies no import tariffs on more than 10 types of goods imported from 31 African countries, including textiles, machinery and farm products, the official Xinhua news agency said.

      China's expanding peacekeeping role


      The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has increased its participation in a broadening array of multilateral security arrangements in recent years. One of the most high-profile aspects of this trend is the dramatic expansion in Chinese peacekeeping deployments (of civilian police, military observers, engineering battalions and medical units) to UN operations: since 2000, when China deployed fewer than 100 peacekeepers, there has been a dramatic 20-fold increase in its contributions.

      Chinese keep low profile to cash in on the slump in Zambia


      The roulette tables at the Great Wall casino have suddenly fallen silent. A few miles away, Lusaka’s most popular Chinese restaurant is virtually empty, the only guests a handful of wealthy Africans. The ripples from the global economic meltdown have finally washed up on African shores. Nowhere is that more noticeable than in Zambia,

      Chinese premier's WEF speech


      The ongoing international financial crisis has landed the world economy in the most difficult situation since last century's Great Depression. In the face of the crisis, countries and the international community have taken various measures to address it. These measures have played an important role in boosting confidence, reducing the consequences of the crisis, and forestalling a meltdown of the financial system and a deep global recession.

      China’s Route Forward


      In an effort to hold back the domestic effects of the global downturn, China is starting to spend hundreds of billions of dollars on new highways, railroads and other infrastructure projects. The stimulus plan, one of the world’s largest, promises to carry the modernity of China’s coasts deep into the hinterlands, buying the kind of great leap forward it took the United States decades — and a world war — to build, and priming China for a new level of global competition.

      India avails E50bn funding for Africa


      The government of India has made available a partnership programme to the value of about E50 billion ($5bn) over a five-year period to African governments. On the other hand, the Exim Bank of India has expressed interest in partnering with local indigenous financial institutions to provide accessible financial resources.

      Government moves to ban Chinese trade in clothes


      Government has moved to put in place trade laws that will ban Chinese traders from dealing in clothes. The Chinese traders were given 24 months from May last year to rearrange their businesses or face being sent back to China. The government's decision to bar non-citizens - especially the Chinese traders - from dealing in clothing comes at a time when the Chinese traders are found at every corner of the country, selling all types of clothes, mainly fake overseas clothing brands.

      Senegal: China pledges multi-million-dollar aid


      China on Thursday said it would extend Senegal aid worth 8.9 million euros (11.5 million dollars) for sports, cultural and sanitation projects. "The Chinese government will provide the Senegalese government aid totalling 80 million yuan for cooperation projects," Chinese Ambassador Lu Shaye said. This would be used to build or refurbish 11 stadia, a museum, a national theatre in Dakar and a children's hospital, Senegalese Finance Minister Abdoulaye Diop said.

      AU Commission Chairperson lauds China's role in Africa's infrastructure development


      Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union (AU) Jean Ping has spoken highly of China's role in Africa's infrastructure development, saying that the Chinese "dragon" has played a fundamental part in the improvement of the infrastructure facilities across African countries. In an exclusive interview with China's official Xinhua News Agency on the eve of 12th AU Summit to be held here from Feb. 1 to3, Ping said China is Africa's key strategic partner and has made significant contributions to the growth of infrastructure in Africa.

      China expanding Africa arms sales


      Increasing quantities of China-made military equipment have been finding their way to Africa, traded for oil, mineral resources and even fishing rights. Zambia has used its copper resources to pay China in a number of military deals, for instance, and Kenya has been negotiating with China to trade fishing rights for arms. Among the most popular Chinese military exports to Africa are the J-7, K-8 and Y-12 aircraft, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to operate.

      Chinese premier embarks on fence-mending tour of Europe


      Chinese premier Wen Jiabao will arrive in Europe on Tuesday (27 January) for a visit that Chinese foreign ministry officials have described as a 'Journey of Confidence.' His first stop will be the World Economic Forum annual gathering in Davos, Switzerland, ahead of a number of scheduled meetings with European leaders in a bid to mend fences following the postponing of last month's EU-China summit.

      Zimbabwe update

      AU endorses SADC recommendation


      The African Union will adopt in total the recommendation of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) aimed at resolving the current political crisis in Zimbabwe, Tanzania's Foreign Affairs minister, Mr. Bernard Membe, said here Thursday, at the start of the African Union Executive Council meeting.

      Btswana calls on ZANU-PF, MDC to set up government


      Botswana on Wednesday threw its weight behind a regional push for a Zimbabwe unity government by mid-February, saying there was "no need for political games" as Zimbabweans suffered. In a statement, acting foreign minister Ramadeluka Seretse said Botswana supported the resolution that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputies be sworn in by February 11 and for the cabinet to follow two days later.

      Cholera deathtoll now at 3000


      Cholera has killed more than 3,000 Zimbabweans and infected at least 57,000, the World Health Organization said on Wednesday, making it the deadliest outbreak in Africa in 15 years. The disease has spread as rival political parties struggle to implement a power-sharing agreement reached in September and seen as a chance to ease the humanitarian crisis and save the faltering economy.

      Court remands WOZA leaders


      The Bulawayo Magistrate's Court on Wednesday remanded Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu, the embattled leaders of a pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), the group said in a statement received in Dakar by PANA. The Magistrate remanded the two WOZA leaders in custody till 26 February when the case is expected to resume.

      Government accepts foreign currencies to avert economy collapse


      Zimbabwe, mirred in a decade-long economic crisis, Thursday announced it was fully accepting foreign currencies as legal tender in its business transactions in an effort to prop up the economy, improve the inflow of basic goods and ease trading. Until now, only a select group of businesses were allowed to charge goods and services in foreign currencies.

      MDC resovles to join unity government


      Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change looks set to join the unity government following the party's national executive committee agreement on Friday. The move comes barely a few days after the party said it was disappointed by the outcome of a SADC-member meeting in South Africa.

      Obama says South Africa can help solve crisis


      U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by phone with South African President Kgalema Motlanthe and said Pretoria had an important role to play in helping resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis, the White House said on Wednesday. "President Obama emphasized the importance of South Africa's leadership role as a strong and vibrant democracy in Africa. The two leaders discussed their shared concerns about the situation in Zimbabwe," the White House said in a statement.

      African Union Monitor

      Africa: Africa close to Union Government after years of debate


      African leaders are expected to deal conclusively with the discussions regarding the formation of the Union Government during their meeting scheduled for Sunday which could see the birth of a federal government for Africa after more than half-a-century of debate. African Union Commission (AUC) President Jean Ping told PANA the leaders were likely to make a final decision on the formation of the Union Government after several debates on the issue, which was first raised at the first meeting that gave r ise to the formation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU).

      Africa: AU against Bashir indictment


      African governments have rallied behind Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir in rejecting a possible international arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court on charges of orchestrating genocide in Sudan's volatile western region of Darfur.

      Women & gender

      Mauritius: Sceptical welcome for Equality Law


      Nobody shall suffer prejudice in his social life or his place of work because of his or her ethnic origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, political conviction or physical handicap. This is the challenge of Mauritius's new Equal Opportunities Act (EOA). In Mauritius, the Constitution guarantees everybody's rights. Yet, women, minorities and many other people suffer from discrimination in jobs, and other fields. This is done in such a way that they are difficult to be detected.

      Morocco: Women doctors to intensify protest action


      Married female medical doctors in Morocco continued their protest this week, with a sit-in that began Monday (January 26th) in front of the Health Ministry headquarters, against a policy that allows them to be assigned to jobs far away from their families. The demonstration – scheduled to run through Friday – also protests the ministry's non-payment of the doctors' salaries since last November.

      Human rights

      Africa: First-ever trial at ICC, on use of child soldiers, opens


      Legal history was made today in The Hague, the Netherlands, when the International Criminal Court (ICC), which was mandated to try war crimes beginning in 2002, put its first suspect taken into custody, a Congolese warlord accused of recruiting child soldiers, on trial. The case of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo represents not only the debut proceedings of the ICC but also the first trial in the history of international law to see the active participation of victims in the proceedings, among which will number child combatants.

      Africa: Protect the vulnerable and stress accountability - AU Summit


      The African Union (AU) should attach top priority to civilian protection and bringing human rights abusers to justice when it meets for its summit meeting in Ethiopia next week, Human Rights Watch said in an open letter to AU Chairman Jean Ping. The AU summit takes place from January 26 to February 3 in Addis Ababa. The letter analyzes the human rights crises in Somalia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, and Guinea.

      Algeria: Debate rages over proposed death penalty ban


      Debate is heating up in Algeria between clerics and human rights activists over a proposed ban on capital punishment in the country. Religious leaders accuse legislators of denying society a punitive measure prescribed in the Qur'an, while supporters of the ban believe the death penalty is a human rights issue and should not be approached from a religious or philosophical perspective.

      Cameroon: Government 'guilty of rights abuse'


      The human rights group, Amnesty International, says security forces in Cameroon routinely use force to put down anti-government protests. Political opposition was not tolerated in Cameroon, Amnesty's deputy Africa director, Tawanda Hondora, said. Dissent was suppressed by violence or abuse of the legal system, he said.

      Chad: Human rights violations go unpunished


      One year after the battle between government and armed opposition forces in N'Djaména, Chad, serious human rights violations perpetrated by the security forces are continuing with no one being held accountable. "A year after the conflict, members of the security forces who carried out a regime of murder, torture and enforced disappearance of suspected government opponents have not been brought to justice, fuelling an already pervasive problem of impunity," said Tawanda Hondora, Amnesty International's Africa Deputy Programme Director.

      Rwanda: End lifetime solitary confinement


      The Rwandan government should honor its international obligations by enacting legislation to abolish life imprisonment in solitary confinement, Human Rights Watch said in a letter to the presidents of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies. In December 2008, the Rwanda Parliament prohibited life in solitary confinement for genocide suspects transferred from the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) or extradited from other countries and found guilty by Rwandan courts.

      Refugees & forced migration

      Global: Spanish artists help fight malnutrition among African refugees


      A close partner of the UN refugee agency has persuaded some of Spain's top artists to support an exhibition and online auction to raise money to tackle malnutrition among young refugees in four African countries. The Spanish Committee for UNHCR, with the emceeing skills of UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador Jesús Vázquez, launched "Refugi@rte" in Madrid last Tuesday.

      Kenya: UN Agency tasks government on Somali refugees


      The UN refugee agency has asked Kenya to stop the forcible return of Somalis seeking asylum after three people who crossed the Kenyan border were sent back. "We very much regret the latest decision to forcibly return to Somalia the three wounded Somalis,'' Ron Redmond, spokesperson for the High Commissioner for Refugees, said in a statement on Wednesday in New York. It also called on Kenyan authorities "to fully respect the principle of non-refoulement, as enshrined in the 1951 Geneva Convention and Kenya's own Refugees Act."

      Sudan: Congolese refugees flee LRA


      Recent attacks by the rebel Lord's Resistance Army in north-eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have driven thousands of Congolese to South Sudan. A UNHCR team last weekend visited the Sudanese village of Lasu, 50 kilometres from the DRC border, and registered 680 uprooted Congolese, most of them from the village of Aba. They said they fled their homes last week following an attack by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel group from Uganda.

      Sudan: Stranded Sudanese leave Iraq for Romania


      A second group of Sudanese refugees, most of whom are fleeing strife-torn Darfur, have been evacuated from perilous circumstances in Iraq to a groundbreaking transit centre in Romania, from which they hope to be resettled in the United States, the United Nations refugee agency reported. The group of 42 Sudanese refugees are staying in the new Emergency Transit Centre set up by the Romanian Government, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to provide a temporary haven for refugees pending final resettlement in a third country, a UNHCR spokesperson said.

      Social movements

      South Africa: Statement on the Slums Act Judgment


      Abahlali baseMjondolo have been to the Durban High Court this morning to hear the judgment being handed dawn by the KwaZulu-Natal President, Judge Vuka Shabalala. On the 6 November 2008 the Movement had applied to the Durban High Court for the KwaZulu- Natal Elimination and Prevention of Re-Emergence of Slums Act 2007 to be declared unconstitutional. Full details of the Act, and the reasons for our opposition to it, and can be found on the Movement's website at

      Elections & governance

      Congo: Opposition criticises national electoral commission


      The presidential candidate of the Congolese opposition Alliance for the Republic and Democracy (ARD), Mathias Dzon, has sharply criticised the country's National Electoral Commission (CONEL), accusing it of favouring President Denis Sassou-Nguesso ahead of the country's presidential election in July. Dzon, who served as Finance Minister between 1997 and 2002, told journalists here Wednesday that CONEL was pushing ''a candidate's cause'', alluding to Sassou-Nguesso, who has yet to announce his candidacy for the election.

      Cote d'Ivoire: Identified voters passes 1 million mark


      reparations for the much-delayed elections in Côte d’Ivoire is making headway, the United Nations mission there said today, announcing that the number of voters identified so far in the West African nation has surpassed the four million mark. “This is an important step, particularly given the delays and difficulties that beset the identification and census that are currently taking place,” Hamadoun Touré, spokesperson for the UN Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (UNOCI), told reporters in Abidjan.

      Ghana: Downsizing government


      Ghanaians recently went to the polls to elect a new President to succeed outgoing president Kufuor. This was the second time under the country’s nascent democracy, that one political party was handing over to another without violent dispute. Ghana can be said to have redeemed Africa’s electoral image after the carnage the world witnessed during the Kenyan and Zimbabwean elections.

      Madagascar: Opposition demand justice over death


      The leader of anti-government demonstrations in Madagascar said on Tuesday he would not talk with the government until those behind the death of an opposition supporter were brought to justice. But Andry Rajoelina, the 34-year-old mayor of Antananarivo, said he was calling off plans for another day of protests after Monday's demonstrations degenerated into the worst day of street violence for years on the Indian Ocean island.

      Madagascar: “Unmitigated Disaster”


      After two days of upheaval that resulted in an estimated death toll at 80 nationally, and the looting of dozens of stores, a day of relative calm greeted a stunned nation. Soldiers are now patrolling Antananarivo, and both parties have called for supporters to stand down. The mayor of Antananarivo, Andry Rajoelina, called for a “ghost town” operation in the capital today, January 29th, urging supporters to stay at home, but attend an organized public demonstration on Saturday, January 31st.

      Mauritania: Parties in search of permanent forum for dialogue


      Ten Mauritanian political parties Wednesday held a meeting in the capital Nouakchott, at the instance of the Alternative Party, the main party supporting the 6 August 2008 military coup in the country, as part of an effort to establish a permanent framework for dialogue.

      Somalia: Rivals to seek MPs' votes


      Presidential candidates are preparing to address the expanded Somali parliament a day before it votes to choose a new head of state. At least 14 candidates are running, including Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. An additional 149 opposition members have been sworn in to parliament which is meeting in neighbouring Djibouti.


      Africa: Corruption takes two...


      Corruption in Africa was in the spotlight once again this week with news that Texas-based oil services company Halliburton will pay a record fine to settle a bribery probe. You can see our story here. Halliburton Co will pay a $559 million fine to end an investigation of its former KBR Inc unit if the U.S. government approves the settlement, the largest penalty against a U.S. company for charges of bribery under federal law.

      Kenya: Corruption in Africa: Not in my name!


      When asked by a reporter why he robbed banks, a famous American bank robber Willie Sutton is alleged to have replied: "Because that is where the money is." Over to Kenyan leaders, why are you corrupt? I guess the answer is: "Because public wealth/property belongs to no one in particular!"


      Africa: Burundi wins $833 million debt relief


      Some $833 million of Burundi's foreign debt was canceled on Thursday under a global program to write off the debts of the world's poorest countries. In a joint statement, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund said their executive boards had approved full debt relief for the landlocked Central African country, including money owed to the global financial institutions.

      Africa: Libya invested over US$ 1 billion in Africa in 2008


      Giving details of its investments in Africa in 2008 on the sidelines of the Africa Union Commission summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Libya has organised a fair depicting the investments. At the fair, Libyan companies are showing off their products and where they could be found in various parts of Africa.

      Global: International support for political party development in war-torn societies


      How can the international community improve its support for political party development in countries recovering from civil war? This book chapter examines the challenges of political party assistance in post-conflict environments and the support strategies used by the international community. International actors can strengthen assistance by focusing on party laws from a conflict prevention perspective, working early on rebel-to-party transformation and addressing unequal power distribution in party systems.

      Southern Africa: South Africa to help rebuild Zimbabwe


      South Africa will help rebuild Zimbabwe once a unity government is formed there next month and hopes investors will return quickly, President Kaglema Motlanthe said on Thursday. "This stage is really critical in terms of achieving political stability and the first step towards the economic recovery of that country," Motlanthe told Reuters at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in the Swiss Alpine resort.

      Health & HIV/AIDS

      Africa: Needless deaths as preventable diseases sweep through continent


      Buoyed by what is happening with preventing malaria and unnecessary deaths using less costly and simple methods, health experts want similar strategies be applied on other diseases. Recent studies indicate the use cost-effective preventive strategies such as mosquito nets has reduced hospital admission due to malaria by close to 50 percent, cutting down the number of deaths by thousands and medical bills spend on treating the disease.

      Africa: Scientists want a cocktail of strategies used to reverse malaria


      The findings that malaria caseload in many parts of African countries is reducing faster than ever before is good news. But attempts by different players to take credit of the reducing numbers of malaria cases seems not go down well with others. Those who manufacture and distribute Insecticide Treated Nets (ITN) that prevent mosquito that cause malaria from transmitting the virus, claim over 60 percent of the success is attributable to the use of these nets.

      Kenya: FGM falsely touted as a panacea for HIV


      Priscilla Bosibori, now 17, was 14 when an aunt fetched her from her school in Kisii, western Kenya, on the pretext of taking her to an important family function. Once they had left the school grounds, her aunt said her family had found a way of protecting her from HIV. Bosibori arrived home to a welcome of songs and dances by female members of her family before being placed in a room with other girls her age.

      Southern Africa: HIV pregnancy, stigma and ignorance


      For many women, pregnancy is a time of anticipation and celebration, but for those living positively it can be frustrating when their status – and not their pregnancy – takes centre stage. Being pregnant and positive often comes with its own brand of stigma. In a study among HIV-positive women in the United States, released at the international AIDS conference in Mexico in 2008, about half the respondents thought HIV-positive women could have children if they received appropriate care.

      Zimbabwe: Urban patients now referred to rural mission hospitals


      Rosa Chimbindi, pregnant with her first child, recently went Parirenyatwa hospital, one of Zimbabwe's largest referral facilities, located in Harare, the capital, to have her baby. Instead, staff at the maternity wing told her the hospital was closed because of the health worker boycott. Her doctor had recommended that her baby be delivered by Caesarean section because she was HIV positive and had previously suffered a hip injury.


      Kenya: Obama secondary school to receive $35000


      The Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), The Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, African Diplomatic Corps, African Union, and African Professionals in Washington, D.C., will donate $35,000 to the Barack Obama Secondary School in Kogelo, Kenya, CCA has announced. The donation, to be given in February through the United States Embassy in Nairobi, will be used to purchase books, supplies, and other needed enhancements. Event partners agreed at the offset of the event’s planning process that the Senator Barack Obama Secondary School would be the most appropriate beneficiary of event proceeds.

      Swaziland: Free education? maybe next year


      Although the Swazi constitution stipulates free primary education from 2009, parents will have to pay school fees this year. Only three days before the start of the January term, the country's government announced it will continue to charge for primary education, contrary to the law.


      Ethiopia: Gays threatened as clerics seek homosexuality ban


      Ethiopian religious leaders have called on the country’s government to amend the constitution and ban homosexuality, a law which was never mentioned in the constitution of that country before. In a meeting held in December 2008 in Addis Ababa, where heads of various congregations including the Roman Catholic, Ethiopian Orthodox and Protestant churches met, a resolution was made that seeks to end homosexuality which was branded as “the pinnacle of immorality.”

      Kenya: Pro-gay priest may face the axe


      Pro-gay priest, Reverend John Makokha may face the axe from the United Methodist Church (UMC) following his positive stance on homosexuality, which is said to contravene the social principles of the UMC. Makokha confirmed this explaining that he is likely to be released from his duties during the next annual conference in April 2009 in Kampala.

      Nigeria: Anti-gay bill passed


      The lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex, (LGBTI) community in Nigeria is appalled by the recent approval of the drastic Same Gender Marriage Prohibition Bill by the House of Representatives, which aims to root out all forms of homosexual practices in that country. According to Reverend Jide Macaulay of the House of Rainbow Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) the Bill “is a continuing nuisance and avoidable evil that is terrorizing innocent same gender loving people.”

      Nigeria: Reject ‘same gender’ marriage ban


      A bill before Nigeria's National Assembly to ban "same gender marriage" would expand Nigeria's already draconian punishments for homosexual conduct and threaten all Nigerians' rights to privacy, free expression, and association, Human Rights Watch has said.

      Racism & xenophobia

      Global: UN rights chief urged to fight "orwellian distortions"


      As diplomats gathered in Geneva to draft the outcome declaration for the U.N.'s upcoming world conference on racism, UN Watch, an independent non-govermental organization headquartered in Geneva, called on UN chief Ban Ki-moon and human rights high commissioner Navi Pillay to take the lead in fighting to remove "Orwellian distortions" that taint the proposed text, and to speak our while negotiations are held this week.


      Africa: Pastoralists grapple with climate change


      As many as 250 million people in Africa may not have enough water to meet their basic needs by 2020 because of climate change, a specialist in poverty, environment and climate change said on 27 January. "The day-to-day impacts of climate change, such as higher temperatures and erratic rainfall, are increasing many people's vulnerability to hazards," Charles Ehrhart, the poverty, environment and climate change network coordinator for CARE International, told policy-makers and representatives of pastoralists from the Horn, eastern and central Africa, at a consultative meeting on ways of mitigating the humanitarian effects of climate change on pastoral areas.

      Nigeria: Environment threatened as oil spills from Agip’s pipeline


      Okoroba community is one of the major oil bearing communities in Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. It hosts two oil multinationals: Shell Petroleum Development Company [SPDC] and Nigerian Agip Oil Company [N.A.O.C. The community has boundaries with Emaguo-Kugbo and Aggrisaba on its right and left respectively.

      Land & land rights

      Africa: Land Registration in Ethiopia - New report


      This publication from the Global Land Tool Network belongs to a series of research reports examining the changing landscape of land tenure security in developing countries. The intent is to provide up-to-date information to land professionals and policy makers working in the land sector and to raise awareness on what is being done at the country level.

      Media & freedom of expression

      Tunisia: Call for end to blockade of radio station


      Members of the IFEX-Tunisia Monitoring Group (IFEX-TMG), a coalition of 18 member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) network, firmly condemn the siege carried out by police on Tunis-based media outlet Kalima and call on the Tunisian authorities to immediately launch an investigation into the abduction of one of its journalists and harassment of the station's staff and contributors.

      Zambia: Court "bans" newspaper form covering trial


      On 28 January 2009, Ndola High Court Deputy Registrar Jones Chinyama banned "The Post" newspaper from covering former president Fredrick Chiluba's case currently before the Magistrate's court. The ban came on the heels of a story published in "The Post" on 28 January, which sought to interpret the meaning of Chiluba's intention to give an unsworn statement in court.

      Zimbabwe: Court orders probe into journalist's torture


      On 26 January 2009, the matter of freelance photojournalist Anderson Shadreck Manyere, who is held on allegations of banditry, was heard before Harare Magistrate Gloria Takundwa. The judge ordered police to investigate and present a report on allegations that Manyere was tortured while in unlawful detention. Manyere was kidnapped and held incommunicado for more than three weeks.

      Conflict & emergencies

      Africa: Courting conflict? justice, peace and the ICC


      Is the International Criminal Court (ICC) pursuing too aggressive and disruptive an agenda in Africa, without proper priorities? This series of papers, published by the Royal African Society, suggests that the ICC has made a promising beginning in many respects, but that its work in Africa highlights some significant weakness. According to one charge, the ICC’s pursuit of justice jeopardises fragile peace deals, risking the prolongation of conflict.

      DRC: UN to support joint military plan


      The top United Nations envoy to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has formally accepted an invitation by the nation’s Government to support the joint DRC/Rwanda military operation targeting ethnic Rwandan Hutu militias. “We are going to bring our support so that this process can succeed as soon as possible,” Alan Doss, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, said following talks with DRC authorities yesterday in Goma, the capital of North Kivu province.

      Guinea-Bissau: Building a real stability pact


      This latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, argues that the West African country’s new prime minister, Carlos Gomes Junior, has an opportunity to carry out the administrative and political measures needed to strengthen the state, stabilise the economy and fight drug trafficking. But he will need to base his approach on political dialogue with President Nino Vieira, the army and rivals within his own party.

      Kenya: Food shortage takes a huge toll in North-Eastern Province


      Last November, North Eastern Province was hit by floods that cut off the region. Two months later, the green scenery has turned tinder dry. Surface temperatures oscillate between 35 and 40 degrees, says the Kenya Meteorological Department. Residents tread on a thin line between life and death as the food shortage bites. Water sources — pans, dams, and boreholes — have turned into murky poodles. Also facing food shortage are neighbouring districts of Tana River and Kyuso. Fafi and Lagdera, that were carved out of Garissa last year, are also in a bad state.

      Kenya: Hunger risk for 10 million


      Caritas is launching a US$4.1 million appeal to help the people of Kenya after warnings that children have already started to die from hunger-related illnesses. Up to 10 million people could be hit by acute food shortages. A combination of drought, crop failures, high food prices and last year's post election violence means shortages are widespread. The crisis is affecting not only vulnerable groups such as women, children and pastoralists, but also households previously thought to have reliable food sources.

      Madagascar: UN chief calls for protection of civilians


      Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has offered United Nations support to help foster reconciliation in Madagascar where serious unrest has led to the death of dozens of people. In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Mr. Ban voiced concern for the security of the population and deplored the loss of life. “The Secretary-General calls on the Malagasy Government to place an absolute priority on the protection of the population,” it said.

      Mali: Conflict intensifies in North, despite Algiers accord


      Tensions have returned to northern Mali in recent days, despite efforts by Algeria to mediate a peaceful settlement between the government and Tuareg rebels. The Malian army has intensified its attacks against rebel positions in the area of Kidal, possibly in pursuit of a commander who rejects the peace plan proposed in the 2006 Algiers Accord.

      Sudan: Darfur mediator calls for end to renewed clashes


      The United Nations and African Union (AU) joint chief mediator for the peace process in Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region today expressed grave concern over renewed combat in the southern part of the vast region, saying it undermines hopes for a peaceful settlement of the conflict. “The escalation of violence violates the spirit of the Humanitarian Ceasefire Agreement on the Conflict in Darfur of 2004 and constitutes a breach of various Security Council resolutions,” Djibril Bassolé said in a formal statement released in Khartoum.

      Internet & technology

      Global: Free Ubuntu pocket guide released


      Keir Thomas, author of numerous Linux how-to books as well as Ubuntu-specific guides, has released a new book called Ubuntu Pocket Guide. The compact 166-page guide to using Linux is available in both printed form as well as a free PDF download.

      Rwanda: Better health at a click of a button


      The small, dusty village of Mayange lies 20 kilometres from Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Its health centre has fewer than 40 beds but serves an estimated 35,000 people. In most ways, the Mayange centre is like thousands of other health facilities across the continent which struggle to meet patients’ needs with very few resources and staff. Thanks to an innovative partnership involving the government, non-governmental organizations and private companies, the Mayange centre now uses mobile telephones to provide better treatment.

      Fundraising & useful resources

      Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe education sector


      The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is looking for a consultant to carry out a gender analysis of the Zimbabwe Education Sector Policies, Programmes and Budget. The analysis is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN, including the promotion of gender equality and equity in public policies and resource allocation to the education sector, and the upholding of the right to education for children in Zimbabwe.
      The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is looking for a consultant to carry out a gender analysis of the Zimbabwe Education Sector Policies, Programmes and Budget. The analysis is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN, including the promotion of gender equality and equity in public policies and resource allocation to the education sector, and the upholding of the right to education for children in Zimbabwe.

      We require a consultant with recognised expertise and experience in Gender, Gender Budgeting, Economics, Public Policy, or any other related field, with experience in the analysis of public policies and particular experience in education policy being an advantage. Knowledge of the Zimbabwe national policy making and budgeting processes and knowledge and experience in gender (and or gender budgeting) analysis and excellent oral and written communication skills in English are also required.

      Contact Details

      Proposals to undertake this analysis should reach ZWRCN by 6 February 2009, and should include a detailed budget and proposed timeline for the work. All correspondence concerning this work should be addressed to:

      Heather Panganai (Programme Assistant)
      288 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
      Tel: 252387-90

      Or via email to: [email protected]



      The proposed action, for which these Terms of Reference are prepared, is the gender analysis of the education policies, programmes and budgets, which is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN, including the promotion of gender equality and equity in public policies and resource allocation to the education sector, and the upholding of the right to education for children in Zimbabwe.

      Aside from putting in place and enforcing laws to support the fulfillment of child rights (particularly child socio-economic rights), government develops and implements public programmes targeted at the delivery of services for children. Because such programmes are premised on some underlying policy, ZWRCN will undertake policy analysis, and as budget follows policy, budget analysis to ensure that efforts to ensure children’s right to education are effective.


      Monitoring the Zimbabwe national budget to advance children’s right to education is intended to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of educational programmes and budgetary allocations in responding to government obligations concerning this right.

      The analyses to be undertaken seek to determine, among others:

      • Whether government has put in place programmes to give effect to the child’s right to education
      • How much has been allocated to the programmes, and the relative importance placed on these through an analysis of the allocations in relation to the total education budget, total programmes budget, and total government budget
      • The presence and extent of discrimination in programme content (implementation plan, roll out of services), and the degree to which the programmes pay attention to the specific needs of the vulnerable, e.g. poor children, girls, the physically challenged
      • Problems (financial and non-financial) that have to be overcome in the programmes to ensure that services are rolled out to all children (boys and girls) in need

      The main components of the study will be 1) Situational analysis; 2) Policy and programme analysis; 3) Budget analysis; and 4) Analysis of budget implementation.

      1. Situational Analysis

      This component will assess the situation of children concerning basic educational opportunities. Basic education here refers to the primary and secondary education levels. The analysis takes into account access to education, which touches on sufficiency of family income, human development opportunities and economic and physical vulnerability. Specifically, the analysis will seek to move beyond just ensuring girls and boys are enrolled into primary and secondary school, and assess accessibility to basic education by girls and boys in Zimbabwe in terms of:

      • Attrition: This refers to the proportion of students starting school who discontinue through withdrawal, dropping out, etc). The determinants of children’s retention in primary and secondary education are assessed to provide a basis for analysis of policies and programmes that seek to address this. The MOESC has set as one of its objectives the reduction of the school dropout rate and improve retention
      • Completion: This refers to the proportion of students successfully completing the last year of (or graduating from) primary or secondary school in a given year. An assessment will be made of the factors that affect completion in relation to the measures that are being and could be taken to address the issue. The survival rate to the last grade of primary education is low in Zimbabwe (63 and 62 for female and male students respectively)

      2. Policy and programme analysis

      The proportion of students completing primary school and entering secondary school can be positively shaped by a combination of policy interventions aiming to: increase primary enrolment rates, reduce dropout rates and provide sufficient numbers of places in secondary schools for those pupils making the transition. Specific measures have been put in place by the Zimbabwe Government to improve access to education by poor children, including the Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM), which was introduced in the late 1990s under social protection to assist vulnerable children with school fees and levies. BEAM was drawn up against a backdrop of high school dropout rates, especially among girls at secondary level. The policy emphasises that 50 percent of the beneficiaries from this fund should be girls at secondary school level. The policy and programme analysis component will include the:

      • Identification and analysis of education policies and programmes that seek to promote children’s right to education with regards to access, attrition and completion
      • Selection of programmes in the Ministries of Education, Sport and Culture and Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare for analysis in the context of programme design, content, objectives, and level and extent of achievement of programme objectives
      • Analysis of discrimination in access to services. This includes programme eligibility and access procedures, and analysis of government’s justification for discrimination in eligibility for a programme versus actual need.

      3. Budget Analysis

      This involves the analysis of the adequacy of budget allocations to selected programmes, analysis in relation to other programmes and the total education budget. The analysis will investigate specific expenditure on girls’ education as well as general/ mainstream expenditures in the education sector in relation to the following:

      • The level of priority given to the programmes
      • Different financing options available for the programme
      • Impact on different groups of children such as orphans and vulnerable children, the disabled, and rural versus urban children. It is acknowledged that while some policies may generally succeed in improving overall access to education, problems in respect of enrolment, retention and completion often remain for the poor, disabled or children living in rural areas.

      4. Analysis of budget implementation

      This component looks at whether the funds allocated to the programmes found their way to the programme destination, proportion of allocations spent by the programmes, and the results (e.g. expansion in access to services looking at the gender variations in accessing the services)

      Scope of Work

      a) Review all relevant documentation on the macroeconomic situation in Zimbabwe, National macro-economic policy framework documents, poverty assessment studies, and other relevant materials
      b) Review previous gender analyses of national budgets undertaken by ZWRCN and other regional organizations implementing Gender Budget Initiatives such as the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) in Uganda, and the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)
      c) Assess the situation of girls and boys in the educations sector with regards to access, attrition and completion
      d) Critically assess the policies and programmes put in place by the Government of Zimbabwe aimed at addressing the observed gender inequalities in education
      e) Provide an analysis of the responsiveness of the national budget, focusing on the education sector budget, to gender inequalities over the past 5 years
      f) Using socio-economic indicators, analyze the adequacy of specific budgetary allocations in sector to achieving intended programme results
      g) Analyze the level of priority given to selected programmes in the sector (e.g. by expressing the allocation to this programme as a percentage of the total sector budget)
      h) Submit a draft of the gender budget study to ZWRCN for review
      i) Following comments from the organization and other key stakeholders, produce a second draft of the study report
      j) Present study findings at an education advocacy workshop
      k) Make appropriate adjustments to the analysis following its presentation to key stakeholders at the validation and advocacy workshop and produce a final report


      The consultant will report directly to the Programmes Coordinator at ZWRCN

      Required Qualifications

      The consultant is expected to demonstrate the following:

      • Recognised expertise and experience in Gender, Gender Budgeting, Economics, Public Policy, or any other related field
      • Experience in the analysis of public policies, with particular experience in education policy an advantage
      • Knowledge of the Zimbabwe national policy making and budgeting processes
      • Knowledge and experience in gender (and or gender budget) analysis
      • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English

      Contact Details

      Proposals to undertake this analysis should reach ZWRCN by 6 February 2009, and should include a detailed budget and proposed timeline for the work. All correspondence concerning this work should be addressed to:

      Heather Panganai (Programme Assistant)
      288 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
      Tel: 252387-90

      Or via email to: [email protected]

      ZWRCN policy in establishing fees is that the Consultant will assume any tax obligation that may be imposed by one’s government/country.

      Gender analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe national budget

      Call for Proposals


      The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is seeking a consultant to carry out a Gender Analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe National Budget. The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is expected to contribute to the main objective of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN. The programme seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets at the national level.
      The Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network is a local Non-Governmental Organization that seeks to empower women in Zimbabwe. ZWRCN is seeking a consultant to carry out a Gender Analysis of the 2009 Zimbabwe National Budget. The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is expected to contribute to the main objective of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN. The programme seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets at the national level.

      We require a consultant with recognised expertise and experience in Gender Budgeting, Economics, Gender, Public Policy, or any other related field, and policy analysis skills to conduct this analysis.

      Contact Details

      Proposals to undertake this analysis should reach ZWRCN by 27 January 2009, and should include a detailed budget. All correspondence concerning this work should be addressed to:

      Heather Panganai (Programme Assistant)
      288 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
      Tel: 252387-90

      Or via email to: [email protected]



      The proposed action, for which these Terms of Reference are prepared, is the gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget, which is expected to contribute to the main objectives of the Gender Budgeting and Women’s Empowerment Programme currently under implementation by ZWRCN. The programme seeks to ensure that public resource allocation is pro-poor and gender equitable, and is premised on advocating for the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive policies and budgets that take into account the differential needs of men, women, boys and girls in Zimbabwe.

      Gender budget analysis is a crucial strategy adopted by gender budgeting initiatives in order to highlight the gender gaps in policies and budgets and to promote efficiency in resource allocation. ZWRCN has been conducting gender analysis of national budgets yearly since 1999, to inform budget advocacy.

      The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is critical as it ties together the different components of the programme, which are Training and Capacity Building; Research and Publications; Advocacy, Networking and Coalition Building; and Institutional Support and Development. Research conducted on the socio-economic situation of men and women in Zimbabwe will feed into the analysis, which compares the responsiveness of policies and programmes, and the extent to which resource allocation through the budget addresses the situation of citizens. The analysis will also be used as resource material in training and capacity building activities such as workshops when training the various stakeholders on gender budgeting. In addition, publication of the analysis will ensure that stakeholders gain increased knowledge and understanding of the gendered nature of budgeting outcomes.


      The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget seeks to promote the formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets at the national level.


      • To increase the level of understanding of key stakeholders of gender budgeting, particularly on aspects of gender budget analysis
      • To capacitate ZWRCN and key stakeholders with knowledge and substantiation on the impact of resource allocation decisions on the poor for effective advocacy
      • To promote the monitoring of specific national budgetary allocations through the creation of an accurate and proficient pool of analyses for year on year comparison

      Outputs and Outcomes

      • A gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget report
      • Policy and budget advocacy
      • Increased level of understanding and knowledge by stakeholders (researchers, civil society organizations (CSOs), government officials and technocrats, media) on gender budgeting
      • Increased capacity for monitoring key budget issues
      • Formulation and implementation of gender sensitive national policies, programmes and budgets that address the specific needs of women and men, girls and boys


      Poverty Reduction and Gender Equality Commitments
      Zimbabwe has expressed its commitment to fighting poverty at the national and international levels, and has prioritised as national development goals, three of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs):

      Goal 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger
      Goal 3: Promoting Gender equality and empowering women
      Goal 6: Combating HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseases

      Gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget will contribute to the upholding of human rights and international obligations such as those above through promoting the monitoring of gender mainstreaming activities and poverty eradication programmes, and establishing whether government’s poverty reduction and gender equality obligations translate into policies and budgetary commitments. Gender budget analysis will also contribute to poverty reduction by encouraging fair distribution of resources, and redressing of inequalities resulting from better targeting of policy measures.

      Good Governance and Transparency
      The key requirements of good governance can be considered to be state capability, responsiveness, and accountability. Gender budget analysis addresses these and promotes good governance by improving the extent to which central government leaders are able to get things done. This involves probing the management of public finances, and seeking to ensure that the needs of the specific groups of people are met, i.e. men, women, girls and boys. Proficient undertaking of gender budget analysis is expected to promote increased accountability of government as a result of enlightening CSOs and citizens on analysis of policies, programmes and budgets that query the extent to which gender equality and other commitments by government translate into action. In addressing gender inequalities and promoting fairness in the distribution of resources, gender budgeting will contribute to strengthening good governance.

      Key focus areas

      The gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget is expected to take into account the following crucial areas:

      • The general situation of women and men, girls and boys in Zimbabwe relating to basic socio-economic indicators
      • A critical analysis of policies underpinning the National Budget announcement
      • A critical analysis of the resources allocated (the budget) to implementing specific policies, highlighting the extent to which the budget addresses the socio-economic situation of the population
      • A trend analysis of the national budget for the past 5 years across different sectors

      Scope of Work

      a) Review all relevant documentation on the macroeconomic situation in Zimbabwe, National macro-economic policy framework documents, poverty assessment studies, and other relevant materials
      b) Review previous gender analyses of national budgets undertaken by ZWRCN and other regional organizations implementing Gender Budget Initiatives such as the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) in Uganda, and the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP)
      c) Critically review the 2009 National Budget announcement by the Minister of Finance
      d) Provide an analysis of the national budget, comparing budget shares across sectors and ministries over the past 5 years
      e) Using socio-economic indicators, analyse the adequacy of specific budgetary allocations in selected sectors (Health, education, agriculture and small and medium enterprise development)
      f) Analyze the level of priority given to selected programmes in the above sectors (e.g. by expressing the allocation to this programme as a percentage of the total sector budget)
      g) Submit a draft of the gender budget analysis to ZWRCN for review
      h) Following comments from the organization and other key stakeholders, produce a second draft of the gender analysis of the 2009 National Budget
      i) Present the findings of the analysis at a post budget analysis workshop
      j) Make appropriate adjustments to the analysis following its presentation to key stakeholders at the workshop


      The consultant will report directly to the Programmes Coordinator at ZWRCN

      Required Qualifications

      The consultant is expected to demonstrate the following:

      • Recognised expertise and experience in Gender Budgeting, Economics, Finance, Gender, Public Policy, or any other related field
      • Experience in analysis of public policies
      • Knowledge of the Zimbabwe national policy making and budgeting processes
      • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English

      Contact Details

      Proposals to undertake this analysis should reach ZWRCN by 27 January 2009, and should include a detailed budget. All correspondence concerning this work should be addressed to:

      Heather Panganai (Programme Assistant)
      288 Herbert Chitepo Avenue
      Tel: 252387-90

      Or via email to: [email protected]

      ZWRCN policy in establishing fees is that the Consultant will assume any tax obligation that may be imposed by one’s government/country.

      New Path: African Forum for Intellectual thought - Call for articles


      The NEW PATH: AFRICAN FORUM FOR INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT is published quarterly by the African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF) and provides a forum for innovative thinking about our common future and about how we need to tackle the most intractable problems facing Africa today – focusing on Eastern Africa. The editor invites your articles (opinion and analysis) for the March 2009 edition.

      The NEW PATH: AFRICAN FORUM FOR INTELLECTUAL THOUGHT is published quarterly by the African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF) and provides a forum for innovative thinking about our common future and about how we need to tackle the most intractable problems facing Africa today – focusing on Eastern Africa.

      NEW PATH provides Eastern Africa with an opportunity to discuss African issues, aimed at a broad audience, from the perspective of rigorous intellectual thought and inquiry, so as to shed imaginative light on African affairs, both past and present. It is erected on the foundation of editorial independence, and the promotion of original and rigorous thinking on alternative paths for effecting fundamental change in Eastern African politics and governance, economic development capable of eliminating mass poverty, and contemporary trends in our arts, culture and humanities.

      The editor invites your articles (opinion and analysis) for the March 2009 edition. This edition of ‘New Path’ will cover the following areas:

      1. Post-Conflict Reconstruction in societies emerging from conflicts in Eastern Africa, especiallySomalia and Southern Sudan.
      2. The 2007 General Elections in Kenya and the ensuing political crisis: Impact, Responses and Lessons for East Africa.
      3. Higher Education in Eastern Africa.
      4. Linking Research and Policy uptake in Science and Technology.

      Please send us your articles of not more than one thousand (1,000) words to: [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> by 6th March 2009.

      Honoraria: ARRF will pay modest honoraria for the published articles.

      Writing Queer Kenya - Call for Submissions


      We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don't exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.
      We lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex individuals, in a word, queers, have had the distinct un-pleasure of being told we don’t exist—in official government statements, historical documents, and contemporary statements. Well, we do.

      We want Kenyan stories by Kenya-based and Kenya-born queers. About everything. We want writing about the dailyness of our lives, the good, the bad, the weird, the indifferent. If you have lived it, we want to hear about it. We especially want to reach beyond Nairobi, Mombasa, and other cities to all corners of the country. And we know the rest of Kenya, Africa, and the world wants to hear these stories as well.

      We have three distinct formats. Choose what appeals to you.
      1. Interviews: Tell us your story. Get in touch with us and we’ll arrange an interview. We value your time and your confidentiality. Not sure you want to meet us directly? We have phones and email and all manner of ways to make this happen.
      2. Letters to Kenya: Write (or unearth) a 500-1,000-word letter.
      To whom? Parents, pastors, the government, best friends, former friends, present lovers, former lovers, the person you really want to tune. Get personal, get intimate. Say what you really want to say!
      3. Personal narratives: Write (or unearth) a 2,500-3,000-word narrative about the dailyness of being queer. The high points, low points, the endless plateaus, the quick glances, indrawn breaths of desire, domestic thrills, sexual boredom, beginnings and endings. If you write it, we’ll consider it.

      All submissions should be typed, double-spaced, and submitted electronically to [email protected] If you can’t type, don’t want to, or can’t get hold of an email program that functions, get in touch with us. We can help.

      How You Can Contribute
      1. Get the word out. Convince your friends with hidden manuscripts or stories that must be shared to un-closet them.
      2. Send us encouraging emails. We need your good wishes, your fabulously good wishes.
      3. Volunteer time! We need all the help we can get.
      4. Take ownership. We’re editing, sure, but these are our collective stories.

      Important Dates
      April 30, 2009: Deadline to Receive Submissions June 30, 2009: Selected Contributors Contacted Publication: December 2009.

      Questions? We’re glad to answer.
      Keguro Macharia and Angus Parkinson

      Please contact us at
      [email protected]

      Courses, seminars, & workshops

      Africa: CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme

      2009 Competition: Call for Applications


      The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Advanced Research Fellowship Programme and to invite interested scholars based in African universities or research centres to submit applications for consideration for an award.
      The CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme
      2009 Competition: Call for Applications

      The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is pleased to announce the 2009 session of its Advanced Research Fellowship Programme and to invite interested scholars based in African universities or research centres to submit applications for consideration for an award.

      The CODESRIA Advanced Research Fellowship Programme is designed to contribute to the reinforcement and promotion of a culture of concentrated and extended reflection among African scholars. It is particularly targeted at a younger generation of post-doctoral African scholars interested in carrying out advanced research on any aspect of the African social reality, historical or contemporary. The programme is open to candidates from all disciplines of the Social Sciences and Humanities. Through the programme, support is offered to scholars interested in charting new research directions or extending on-going research to new heights, the expectation being that this will contribute immensely to enriching the state of knowledge about different aspects of the historical and contemporary experiences of Africa. Candidates are free to determine the theme on which they wish to work and to specify their preferred methodology for doing so. In identifying candidates whose applications should be supported, emphasis will be placed on the potential for their proposals to lead to the production of new/original insights. The fellowships will be awarded to cover a period of one year, at the end of which a report of publishable quality shall be submitted for evaluation. Each report is expected to be between 50,000 and 80,000 words long and if accepted for publication will be included in the CODESRIA Book or Monograph Series. For the year 2009, the Council will be awarding ten fellowships of a maximum value of USD10,000 each.

      To be eligible, candidates are expected to be holders of a doctoral degree in any of the social sciences and humanities. The doctoral degree should have been obtained within five years of the date of submission of the application. Exceptionally, candidates who do not yet have doctoral degrees but who have accumulated considerable research experience will be considered for the award of a fellowship. All applicants are required to be affiliated to an African research institution.

      Requirements for Application
      Candidates wishing to be considered for the award of a fellowship are requested to submit the following documents:

      a) Research Proposal
      A research proposal of between 10 and 15 pages which should be a clear statement of the work to be undertaken, the problematic that underpins it, the significance of the study vis-à-vis the existing literature, the methodology to be employed, implications of the methodological approach adopted for the empirical research to be undertaken and the expected output. Candidates are strongly encouraged to indicate the innovative or original dimensions which they hope their study will yield; a detailed presentation of the epistemological foundations of the research will also be considered as a distinct advantage.

      b) Work Programme
      The duration of each fellowship is one year, effective from the date of award. Each application should be accompanied by a detailed work programme spread over a period of 12 months beginning from the date of award of the fellowship.

      c) Budget
      Applicants are required to provide a detailed budget up to a maximum of USD10,000 which includes the research and dissemination costs they expect to incur throughout the duration of their fellowship. The budget should be structured to reflect the disbursement formula the Council intends to apply, which will consist in paying 50% of the fellowship amount upon signature of the award contract, 25% of the grant upon receipt of a satisfactory scientific progress report and the remaining 25% per cent upon receipt of the final revised version of the research results. In addition to the costs of fieldwork and book acquisition, candidates are encouraged to consider integrating participation in one international conference relevant to their research preoccupation in the budgetary framework of their study. (The final choice of the conference to be attended will be made in close consultation with the CODESRIA Department of Training, Grants and Fellowships, it being understood that requests for support to participate in such an international conference will only be entertained by CODESRIA after the receipt of a first complete draft of the final report of the fellow for which feedback from the international scientific community might be elicited for the revision of the report).

      d) Reference Letters
      Applications should be accompanied by three reference letters from scholars who are familiar with the applicants’ work and are in a position to attest to their institutional affiliation. Where possible, candidates are requested to include at least one reference from a scholar based outside their countries of residence.

      e) Curriculum Vitae
      Each candidate should submit a detailed curriculum vitae showing clearly the candidate’s research publications and participation in research network/activities. Copies of certificates obtained by candidates should be included with the applications.

      f) Copy of Doctoral Certificate
      Applicants should include a copy of their doctoral degree certificate with their application documents. CODESRIA reserves the right to cross-check the actual date by which candidates completed their studies in order to determine their eligibility for the fellowship programme.

      g) Candidate’s Commitment Letter
      A one-page letter from the applicant affirming his/her readiness to submit a monograph-length scientific report of between 50,000 to 80,000 words as the outcome of the research carried out under the grant. The applicant should also commit to carrying out all revisions arising from the peer-review of their report in a timely manner, and affirm his/her understanding that the final version of the report will be published in the CODESRIA Book of Monograph Series.

      Selection Process
      All applications received will be reviewed by an independent Selection Committee comprising eminent scholars. All candidates will be notified of the results of the selection process.

      Deadline for the Receipt of Applications
      All applications should be received not later than 31 July, 2009. Applications should be addressed to:

      The Advanced Research Fellowship Programme,
      BP 3304, CP 18524,
      Dakar, Senegal.
      Tel: +221- 33 825 98 22/23
      Fax: +221-33 824 12 89
      E-Mail: [email protected]

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