BY MWAKERA MWAJEFA
Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) want the Ruto administration to ensure the sura ya Kenya (face of Kenya) is prominent in every aspect of the government, public agencies and public institutions.
Responding to media questions at the Holy Ghost Cathedral in Mombasa on November 10, 2022, the KCCB chair and Archbishop of Mombasa Martin Kivuva appealed to President William Ruto to listen to the voices of Kenyans feeling left out in his recent appointments.
“We hope Mr President you are listening to Kenyans’ inclusive cries so that they feel part and parcel of the united people with equal opportunities for jobs or appointments to government positions,” he said.
The new administration recent appointments of cabinet secretaries and principal secretaries have left a lot to be desired with two regions of Rift Valley and Mt Kenya have the lion’s share of the 22 and 51 positions respectively.
For instance, the regional and tribal composition for nominated PSs indicate a skewed appointment of Kalenjin and Kikuyu leading with 13 each followed by Somali 8, Luhya 6, Kamba 4, Luo 2, and Pokot, Maasai, Meru, Coast and Turkana one each.
Again, there is a careful and curious allocation of PSs to CSs that raises eyebrows where 12 ministries are supervised by Kalenjin PSs against CSs from different tribal communities.
Starting with the Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua (PS, Julius Korir); Prime Cabinet Secretary Musalia Mudavadi (PS, Aurelia Rono); Interior Prof Kindiki Kithure (PS, Prof Julius Bitok); treasury Prof Njuguna Ndungu (PS, Dr Chris Kiptoo); Foreign Affairs Dr Alfred Mutua (PS, Dr Korir Sing’oei) and Land/Housing Zacharia Njeru (PS, Nixon Korir).
Others are Information Eliud Owalo (PS, Eng Kipchumba Tanui); Health Susan Wafula (PS, Eng Peter Tum); Eucation Ezekiel Machogu (PS, Prof Belio Kipsang); Livestock & Agriculture Mithika Linturi (PS, Harry Kimutai); Environment Soipan Tunya (PS, Festus Ng’eno) and Water Alice Wahome (PS, Dr Paul Ronoh).
Whether it’s by design or coincidence, the pattern is disturbing and calls for urgent review to include other faces and voices from the more than 45 tribes that make up the 2019 census demography.
In their statement read in parts by Archbishop Philip Anyolo (Nairobi), Archbishop Anthony Muheria (Nyeri) and Archbishop Kivuva (Mombasa), the KCCB told the political class to get down to work and deliver on their promises.
According to them the tendency in the country to be in perpetual campaign mode instead of focusing on service delivery should stop to deal with economic hardship facing Kenyans.
“Our elected leaders must take seriously the responsibilities that Kenyans have bestowed upon them. This is not the time for leaders to pass blame or engage in needless political rhetoric. Let our leaders strive to be servant leaders focusing on improving the economy for the benefit of all the citizens.”
They challenged the opposition to play their role in keeping the government in check in service delivery and ensure it fulfilled the promises it made by being bold enough to highlight pertinent issues affecting the country through giving constructive criticisms.
Kenyans, on the other hand, have constitutional rights to keep their elected leaders accountable and ensure that they delivered on their promises.
“We need to remain vigilant and engage with our leaders challenging them to focus on service delivery and to be fully transparent in the use of public resources.”
The Catholic Church underlined the need to address the chronic challenges facing the nation especially corruption and insecurity in the North Rift region which the government should tackle in a systematic way as a matter of priority.
On the unbearable cost of living, the church wants prices of essential household items such as maize flour, cooking oil, rice, cooking gas and electricity to be reduced as they continue to be way above reach of ordinary people.
“We particularly single out the taxes imposed on the basic commodities. We call on Parliament to look into the taxation regime and consider practical fiscal policies like zero-rating some of these basic and essential foodstuffs.”
This, according to them, will reduce prices of basic food items and petroleum products whose rise has a direct effect on the cost of living.
The drought situation, especially in the arid and semi-arid regions, has reached a crisis level that calls for urgent and decisive action from all actors while commending the government efforts in releasing food relief to those affected by famine.
However, the church expressed disappointment that it was receiving reports that some of that support was not reaching the intended recipients or was taking too long to reach desperate Kenyans in need of urgent help.
“We appeal to the government to set up a better coordinated multiagency of distributing emergency relief by including faith-based organisations in order to ensure support reaches the most vulnerable people and does not end up benefiting a few well-connected individuals.”
Saying the drought is affecting school-going children, the church asked the government to finance school feeding programs in areas affected by the current drought so that no child will drop-out of school.
To deal with this perennial food insecurity, the bishops urged the government, nongovernmental organisations and Kenyans to study and think through ways of enhancing post-harvest food management techniques that would increase food security and provide food banks.
On climate change and environment, the bishops want leaders to tackle squarely the use of plastics leading to degradation of water bodies and charcoal burning resulting in the destruction of trees.
“Our concern for the environment and climate change is propelled by the Encyclical Letter Laudato Si of Pope Francis. We on our part must commit to planting and growing trees and caring for our environment.”
Describing education as the best gift given to children, the bishops urged the Presidential Working Party on the review competency-based curriculum (CBC) to be faithful to the views collected from stakeholders so as to fast track the process.
The bishops’ expectations for the CBC review it will develop a good system of education that is aligned with Kenyans’ values, national development goals and competencies that will safeguard the good of the learners.
On Kenya’s approval on the use of genetically modified organisms after a decade long ban by Ruto administration, the bishops asked the government to come up clean on its declaration saying thorough findings should be provided before allowing such imports in the country.