Richest in Kenya, & the rest: The agony ecstasy (Opinion)

Richest in Kenya, & the rest: The agony ecstasy (Opinion)


As we approach elections on August 8 2017, the rich will lead the way with money while the rest will follow swallowing saliva, begging for unga as the rich campaign for votes. Amid thousands of starving people in Turkana and other parts of Kenya where more than 48pc of the population who live below poverty line, this is happening now. The cries of the poor are also contradicted by a survey entitled “The New World Wealth” which exposed the utra-rich affluent richest in Kenya cent-millionaires and billionaires who placed the country top on the continent’s rich list a few years ago.

It is further contradicted by the tenders that Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission put before the world which like the chicken tender in Britain before it and AngloLeasing all expose Kenya as a corrupt, arrogant and abrasive people unable to learn from the past. The survey revealed that by the end of 2030, the list of the superrich in the country which grew from 6,600 in 2007 to 8,200 in 2013 had 105 individuals who controlled more than a half of the country’s individually held wealth. These despicable figures allude to the fact that 25 of the moguls own Sh404 billion. It is also estimated that by the end of this year, the number of super-rich would have increased to 10,700. Despite this notable increase, the level of inequality in the country will still be enormous.

Devon conferences since 2011 have shown that certain fundamental moral issues and persistent inequalities in developed and less developed countries have drawn our attention to the suffering of the poor to which our leaders have turned a blind eye. As a result American’s second richest man who was also head of IMF, Warren Buffet and China’s President Hu Jintao loudly and publicity expressed their concern regarding the dangers of the rising gap between the rich and the rest (Economist, January 22, 2011). At that time, the Obama administration took steps and established Obamacare to cater for 20 million poor on Americas, which Trump is trying to erase today.

This agony and ecstasy is perhaps better documented on the African context when it is revealed that the first five presidents of Nigeria who ruled that country between 1960 and 2005 amazed nearly 21 trillion dollars. In a country where poverty is rampant, that sum of money is beyond imagination even in developed country. The study by Oxfarm “inequalities in Nigeria, Exploring the Drivers”, was released recently and exposes the growing gap between the rich and the poor.

In most of the Third World countries, be it Argentina, DRC Congo or Burundi, revelation of this kind of information stirs animosity and in Kenya, it is immediately categorized as inciting people which is interpreted by the ruling Jubilee as inflammatory and a threat to peace and national cohesion. Whenever National Super Alliance mentions the issue of land which is currently emotive or national land policy which conjures memories of unimplemented Truth Justice and Reconciliation Report which, the Moi, Kibaki and Uhuru regimes did not implemented some waders objects. It becomes a hideous threat when the opposition chief says “we will fix land laws that Jubilee messed up!! This sound like a threat to the UhuRuto camp. To address the problem of land and disparities in China, the Chinese government put a limit to migration from rural to urban areas so that the rural poor do not migrate to the cities. In England, the prime minister David Cameron acknowledged that “moreunequal  societies do worse according to almost every quality of life indicator”. As a result of all these concerns, Mr Buffet became a crusader for higher inheritance tax in the US arguing that America risks entrenched plutocracy without his inheritance tax.

While Kenyans may have read the New World Wealth Survey and admired the country’s celebrated entry into the global rich, a new strand of argument among scholars in a book, “The Spirit Level” articulated the perilous consequences of inequality from higher murder rates, lower life expectancy and other macroeconomic repucations whose consequences Kenya is experiencing today. They include the fights we see between governors, senators, member of parliament and the Judiciary. This inequality has perverted all aspects of politic spectrum in Africa that include coups and countercoups hence political instability throughout Africa.

As we approach this unavoidable moment of reckoning, I am constantly reminded that Hillary Clinton had 3 million votes more than Trump who is currently in the White House. We begin wondering whether it’s the Electoral College System which rigged elections in the US or the Russians who literally hacked the elections to make Donald Trump the president of the United States of America. Whatever the case, Bernnie Sanders, an independent from the State of Maine painfully indicates that billionaires are controlling political systems all over the world.

In the United States, Trump has more billionaires in his administration than any other presidents in this history of United States. It has been revealed that 1pc of the World’s rich control 90pc of the world’s wealth. And to the utter surprise of many nonAmericans, 43 million Americans are living in poverty. This is nearly 13pc of the US population compared to 48pc of population who live in poverty in Kenya.

After Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission conducted a Survey in 39 counties and established that bribery, nepotism in tendering are rampant it’s no surprise that the IEBC tender which lacked transparency in service delivery is blamed even before the election date on August 8 2017. This is also a reminder over what Nemu reposed in 1983 when it is indicated that Kenya has not conducted a free and fair election since 1963. The problems of inequality and corruption has perverted all aspects of politics in Africa causing coups and counter coups hence political instability throughout Africa.

For this reason, it is not surprising that some of our journalists who expose these truths are held in police custody. This unhealthy clout of plutocratic elite vis or vis millions of poor Kenyans who vote cannot be allowed a free and fair election. And this why what Ruto dismisses as allegations from opposition leader sound tactical and truthful.

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