THE BASIC NEEDS REVOLUTION IN KENYA


Charity Ngilu (Mama Rainbow has had an illustrious political career. From a humble secretary, to a managing director and finally in government as a key driver of political agenda; Ngilu has achieved it and enjoyed it; I trust. In the runner up to the 2013 general elections, Ngilu was in the media for the right reasons. She claimed that it was incumbent upon her, as the most experienced female politician in Kenya, to lead a basic needs revolution in Kenya. Her argument was that since independence, the government had not got it right. He claim was that she is the only one, despite having been in government as minister for 10 years, who would get it right if she became president. She later joined the Jubilee brigade on the pretext that Jubilee would achieve what she had intended to achieve.

The question Kenyan peasants and hustlers should ask themselves is "Can the basic need revolution be championed by politicians?" Yes, of-course, to the extent such rhetoric serves their interests, they will always pretend to be championing such a cause. A more exciting question would be "Can the current crop of politicians deliver a basic needs revolution in Kenya?" Moreover, "do Kenyan politicians see the basic needs revolution the same way peasants and hustler's see it". Does Ngilu and other elites who take home millions of shillings every month even when Kenyans are dying of hunger and starvation; Remember the Kenyans for Kenyans campaign, understand the basic needs revolution? How can Ngilu and other politicians pretend at understanding the basic needs approach to development when the executive and Mps alone take home more than 2billion in salaries and allowances every month; instigating the clamor for higher salaries by the privileged civil servants.
In her presidential bid launch, Ngilu said the right thing by asking us to rethink our development agenda and focus on the basics. The question should be, how do we ensure every Kenyan has food, water, shelter, clothing, access to quality education and quality healthcare services? Our country is blessed with many fresh water sources; how come water water access is still a problem for many at this time in history. Our country is an agricultural country so why food shortages? Our country has capacity to grow enough cotton so why lack of clothing? Our country is known for its heavy investment in the education of its people (Kenyans are very educated) but why does Kenya seem like a land of illiterates? How come we operate more sentimentally than in a principled way? And why is our healthcare system in shambles? For me, it all boils down to bad capitalist driven economic fundamentals that inform our policies.
Our politicians, the likes of Ngilu, Raila, Ruto, Uhuru and Kibaki can not promise us anything like a basic needs revolution. Raila can promise us governance reforms and yes he has a track record of fighting for political reforms. However, beyond political reforms, which allow for the big boys to enjoy political freedom, I wonder if he really cares about the common mwanainchi. If he really cared, he would have done something substantial, radically trans-formative for the people of Kibera. If he really cared, he would be an employer of a number of Luos in Nyanza through fish factories na kadhalika. How about Uhuru? Is this guy not a centralist who is afraid of the common man who reminds him of historical injustices? Mudavadi is a boy born with a silver spoon in his mouth and I doubt he understands when people say Kenyans are suffering due to poverty. So, I do not give it to politicians to deliver the basic needs revolution in Kenya.
The basic need revolution is not far from being realized; the politicians have started smelling it no wonder they are preempting it. Teachers, Police, Lecturers, Doctors and All Civil Servants, Let Us Keep Striking Till We Get the Real Strike. I only hope our government due to political expediency heeds our call and increases the wage rate some more. We all want high salaries, expensive schools; expensive cars, expensive tea and I hope even expensive ugali. The recently introduce VAT bill 2013 is good fuel towards the basic needs revolution. The capitalists are smiling all the way to the bank as what analysts call "temporal" inflation sets in. We might exercise the accept and move on philosophy and assume the cost of living cry; however, a year or two down the line, the number of destitute families will have increased substantially.

Consumerism is the only thing privileged Kenyans want to believe in; all the way from the president who earns enough, Mps, and now teachers, house workers, sex workers; even me I am joining the foray because we need better salaries. We have distorted product value in favour of capital value. This is not that bad all the same, however, to the extent many are languishing amidst plenty, there is need to be cautious. Kenyans, the only language our government understands is strikes…. Yes, let us picket and those who do not join us in the Haki Yetu (our right) chants, let us rough them up and humiliate them as best as possible just as it happened to some headmasters sitting for a management exam during the recent KNUT engineered strike.

Please government; award the teachers, Doctors and every other civil servant a 300% pay rise. Harmonize the salaries of Doctors so they are the same as those of our civil servants; after all we all have degrees. Please doctors, do not take any crap from our government. You have the lives of Kenyans in your hands so government should just meet your demands or whatsoever happens to Kenyans is not your responsibility. Policemen, what are you waiting for…. You do not have to go on the streets carrying Haki Yetu banners (after all, if you did that there will be no one to lobby tear gas at you). All you need is do the usual; jam communication lines and go slow in delivering those services, which I wonder if you deliver anyway. Why should you be left behind dear farmers, I invite to also organize for a strike so that government offers you value for your produce.
Let us do some mathematics, even though I am not a good mathematician. In 2012 the government outstanding public debt is more than 1.2 trillion. While our budget for 2012 is a trillion plus, our budget short fall estimate stands at about 4.8%. This translates into a budget deficit of about 480 billions (this info has to be confirmed). These deficits have to be financed through further debt, I suppose. Now consider 200, 000 teachers getting a pay hike of 300%. While they are touting the lowest paid teacher’s salary which is about 13, 000, the average pay per teacher in Kenya should be some over and above 36000. So, a 300% increase would mean the average salary of a teacher is 108, 000. Well and good, it would mean the government spending at least 21billion on teachers’ salaries per month and 252billion per year. I assume, the other civil servants, doctors, nurses etc would also want an increase that contributes nearly the same margin to the wage rate. This is peanuts when compared to over 5 billion that parliament and ministers spend every month. However, would our wage rate not be more or less 1 trillion Kenya shillings? If our wage rate reaches such surmountable levels then our entire budget will cover only recurrent expenditure and not developmental projects right? But remember, as per our GDP a budget of 1 trillion leaves us with a deficit of about 480 billion; how then shall we deal with such a deficit if we are not investing in development projects.
I do not care, what matters is that we should have our good lives now. We all want to drive posh cars, own real estate and take our children to best schools right. So, let the government continue effecting pay hikes. By the way, the speaker of the national assembly also thinks Mps are earning peanuts. So add them on the list of pay hike wagon and let us get people raking in money. It is only through this pay hikes that the ground will be laid for the real basic needs revolution. While the employed clamor for pay hikes, many of us who are unemployed continue to suffer in silence. While the government continues to offer huge pay checks rather than investing in irrigation, agriculture, better public schools, better technical colleges at the village level that address local problems; our people finish school to find themselves having to work as watchmen, cooks, gardeners or nobodies. Yes, more money in circulation would mean less value for money in the pocket. How about inflation, higher social inequality and increasing poverty for the real poor in our midst. When all this come to pass, then shall we have the real basic needs revolution? I hope to see the mother of all strikes; just like what has happened in the North of Africa or the Middle East; our revolution will not be a revolution to entrench democracy but a revolution for equality and equity in society (I do not want to dream of the classlessness that Marx dreamt about, but there is hope). Soon and very soon, the children of peasants who can no longer afford peasantry will take to the streets demanding that government focuses not on Nuclear Energy sources or anything but on BASICS……………..

Comments

  1. The statistics provided are hypothetical but they are very close estimates

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