We can debate about whether Kenya is a failed state but we can’t argue that it is not failing. It is failing; and it is failing fast.
‘Post Cards from Hell’, the Failed States Index 2011, conducted by Fund for Peace (FfP) and published by the Foreign Policy Magazine, placed Kenya in Position 16, among countries like Somalia, Chad and Sudan.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) views weak states as those which are unable and/or unwilling to deliver core functions to the majority of its people. These basic services include security, protection of property, basic public services and essential infrastructure. Therefore, states weaken or fail with the extent to which they are unable to provide basic functions for their citizens.
Since the publication of ‘Post Cards from Hell’ things have gotten worse. The government has not only failed to protect private property; it has become a destroyer. Lecturers are on stike. Medical practitioners have also downed their tools and IDPs are still living in camps.
The case of the demolitions of houses in Syokimau, many of them belonging to young families is a sorry state of affairs. While it may be true that the land in question is earmarked for the expansion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the government had no right to destroy the buildings whose construction it had approved in the first place.
What is worse, is that while the Cabinet approved the demolitions, the local government seems to have been unaware of the intentions and believes them to be illegal. Now the Mayor is defending the evictees and claiming that Nairobi is encroaching into Mavoko. Do we have a government really?
A failed economy
The monetary policy has been so mismanaged that recent weeks have seen the Kenyan Shilling shed off a third of its value. After a few had benefited greatly from the mess, the Central Bank (CBK) decided to act – belatedly. Now CBK has increased its rates and the banks have taken their cue. They are falling over themselves in the race to increase lending rates. Some of them are now charging up to 24%.
The unemployment rate in Kenya is at 40%. The only other option for the youth is small business ventures about two-thirds of which collapse within six months due to a variety of reasons. Pray, tell me, in a country where the projected economic growth rate is 3.5-4.5% and with an inflation rate of over 16%, who can afford these rates?
More people are going to become poorer. Most entrepreneurs will be unable to repay their loans, properties will be repossessed and businesses will downsize if not shut down altogether. Consequently, people will lose their jobs and we shall surely have more idle youths next year than we did in 2007.
Apparently, however, the events of 2007/2008 occurred too long ago for most of our politicians to remember. We are focused on 2012; employing the same tactics.
If we don’t choose to build a brighter and better Kenya for ourselves; we shall only have ourselves to blame. We are sitting on a time bomb.
To create a political, economic and social system that fulfills the aspirations of Kenyan people to lead secure lives requires a complete transformation of the present institutional syndrome.
That is what our government has failed to do. That is why Kenya is failing. Soon, we won’t argue if it is a failed state. We won’t need the argument then; not that we need it now.