Our pri­vate sec­tor is detox­ing Kenya’s poi­soned pol­i­tics

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - OPINION -

Or­gan­i­sa­tions that speak with a big voice and carry a small stick, such as the Kenya Pri­vate Sec­tor Al­liance, can­not re­main silent when the coun­try is stuck in an end­less elec­tion cy­cle.

Un­less some­thing dras­tic hap­pens, Kenya could be hold­ing elec­tions well past the end­point for Vi­sion 2030, thus jeop­ar­dis­ing all ef­forts to turn it into a mid­dle-in­come econ­omy with a good stan­dard of life and pre­dictable pol­i­tics.

Job ap­pli­ca­tions from the mil­lions of un­em­ployed masses seek­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties in the pri­vate sec­tor are go­ing to thin down to a trickle as their hopes cal­lous into de­spair. The lucky few in em­ploy­ment will be wor­ried sick not know­ing if they will be still wanted the fol­low­ing day or not.

Boy­cotts called to ar­bi­trar­ily pun­ish com­pa­nies for not suf­fer­ing fool­ish elec­tion de­mands about servers and fat­ten­ing op­po­nents are a back­handed com­pli­ment on the cen­tral­ity of busi­ness in Kenya’s pol­i­tics. Fi­nally, the con­gen­i­tal haters of busi­ness have come round to ac­knowl­edg­ing that they can­not seize, con­sol­i­date or ex­er­cise power in Kenya with­out the say-so of Kepsa board mem­bers such as Muhoho Keny­atta and chair­man Vi­mal Shah. Milk, mo­bile phone air­time and cook­ing fat are not to be tri­fled with in an elec­tion sea­son.

The boycott tar­get­ing Mr Keny­atta’s Brook­side Dairies for his kin­ship with Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta and Mr Shah’s Bidco In­dus­tries and Bobby Col­ly­more’s Sa­fari­com for their chum­mi­ness with the gov­ern­ment will not set the 203 mem­bers against one an­other. They will bunch to­gether to re­sist boy­cotts as they speak for the 500,000 businesses across the coun­try.

The pri­vate sec­tor is the en­gine of good ideas, hav­ing au­thored the peace that pre­vailed in the coun­try be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the 2013 Gen­eral Elec­tion. Such was the bril­liance of Kepsa’s peace cam­paign that donors such as the Dan­ish De­vel­op­ment Agency (Danida) and the United King­dom’s Depart­ment for In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment (DFID) told the pri­va­teers not to spend a coin of their le­git­i­mate prof­its on the ini­tia­tive as they would un­der­write it.

Donors, such as the World Bank, see Kepsa as the peo­ple who are de­vel­op­ment-minded, and have been fall­ing over each other to fund the al­liance’s ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Kenya Youth Em­pow­er­ment Project, pass­ing over the liti­gious mili­tia in the civil so­ci­ety keen to rush to court over ev­ery­thing from the voter reg­is­ter to the turnout.

Kepsa has been so busy that it has not been able to up­load its an­nual re­ports since 2015. Its An­nual Re­port for 2014 shows that even when fac­to­ries are shut­ting down and busi­ness is co­matose, the busi­ness com­mu­nity has been du­ti­fully pay­ing taxes to buy the maize in­tra­venously fed to loot­ers and demon­stra­tors through the muz­zle of the gun. Kepsa it­self should, of course, be tax ex­empt see­ing that it does so much good.

Kenya’s pri­vate sec­tor has been gen­er­at­ing the wealth fat­ten­ing the nabobs of de­vo­lu­tion — the open mouth that keeps on con­sum­ing and never gives back.

Re­fus­ing to pay one’s share of value added tax and other levies that fund health and ed­u­ca­tion un­der the gov­ern­ment is the dic­tio­nary def­i­ni­tion of trea­son and must be pun­ished as such. Kepsa mem­bers will carry on with busi­ness even in the face of the most se­vere boy­cotts. They will con­tinue to stock the su­per­mar­kets with their goods and pro­vide ser­vices, whether peo­ple like it or not. Boy­cotts are ten times worse than loot­ing.

Al­ready, Kenyans are wor­ried sick about how they will pay school fees come Jan­uary, when the gov­ern­ment waives tu­ition charges for ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion at pri­mary and sec­ondary level. Al­ready, crashes in the Nairobi Stock Ex­change have sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced the size of the church col­lec­tions, of­fer­to­ries and tithes, caus­ing cler­ics to call out in a loud voice for power shar­ing. Po­lice should use max­i­mum force on those not con­sum­ing their quota.

KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA The pri­vate sec­tor is the en­gine of good ideas, hav­ing au­thored the peace that pre­vailed in the coun­try be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter the 2013 Gen­eral Elec­tion”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kenya

© PressReader. All rights reserved.