The recent Mathare by-election campaigns were held in peaceful atmosphere despite open and rampant voter bribery across board. The By-Election was occasioned by successful petition by Stephen Kariuki of ODM against George Wanjohi of TNA. The by-election attracted a total of nine candidates all targeting more than 80,000 registered voters from different ethnic background.
The leading political alliances Jubilee and CORD managed to invest a lot of resources in ensuring that their candidates captured the vacant seat. There are four reasons why the by-election was peaceful.
First during the previous elections in Mathare, there was always presence of gangs such as Mugiki, Taliban or violent youths ready to be hired by politicians. This time round, none existed to be hired by politicians.
Secondly, the heat generated before the Saba Saba rally which ended peacefully also encouraged the local residents to maintain peace. When the TNA candidate opted to woo only Kikuyu voters this became counterproductive even amongst his supporters. This resulted even in many young Kikuyu voters shunning Wanjohi of TNA for Stephen Kariuki of ODM who is a Kikuyu too.
Thirdly, of late there have been many forums organized by various organizations such Sisi ni Amani Kenya, Inuka, Sauti Yetu Debates and other government led initiatives which all played an important role in integrating people from different ethnic background to meet regularly
Fourthly, when President Uhuru visited Mathare for a church service cum campaign trip for TNA candidate at Redeemed Gospel Church he never openly told the residents to vote Wanjohi rather he talked more about referendum politics and which Raila did later. The President body language betrayed his mission in Mathare thus helping cool the temperature down.
The heavy presence of police cannot be attributed to the peaceful election but can be praised for ensuring law and order was maintain during elections. However it was disappointing to note that most political party agents did not know how a BVR Kits operate. At the end of it all, Mathare has a new MP…Hon. Stephen Kariuki.
Not everybody is a friend of banks and especially in the informal settlements where communities’ have circumvented established financial institution and devised ways of accessing credit facilities outside government controlled channels. Informal financial services vary from shopping of credit without paying an interest, shylock and merry-go-round initiatives.
It is common to meet a group of women meeting in homes or social places within Mathare to discuss ways of sharing collected money without think of banking. But what makes this kind of arrangement better than a variety of services offered by commercial banks? Eunice Wanjiku a member of unregistered women group believes that financial institution are not good for startup initiatives found in the Mathare like selling groceries, second hand clothes or starting chang’aa a local beer businesses. She quips “can you imagine a bank giving me Kshs.5,000 to start chang’aa business?, this is impossible. My previous engagement with a financial institution nearly made me develop ulcers. I will never take a loan from a bank again. They nearly sold my house”
There are many different types of businesses which are profitable according to the locals but unfortunately one cannot get easy credit to invest from established financial institutions. Fortunately, people have developed alternative strategies of attracting credit like forming merry-go-round and table banking initiatives. These groups are formed by likeminded and people who know each other very well. Here, loans are given out of trust with little intrusion from the lending group on the exact nature of your business. Mish, a young enterprenuer consulted fellow women and is in the process of getting Kshs.10,000 which she will refund with 5% interest over a period of six months. She was frustrated by commercial banks which asked so many questions and required her to save for at least three months before she could access the loan.
Requirements to access start-up business loans suitable for slums based businesses are minimal and this has contributed to mushrooming of shylock businesses within slums. In some places, community members own more than one or two expensive electronic item such as phones of TVs which they use for accessing loans from shylocks. Here the interest is quite high with the value of your item being determinant of how much you can access. The local shylocks are very strict and merciless. Failure to pay of time your valued good is sold to friends at a throw away price.
Our financial institutions have a long way to go in understanding how informal financial transaction operate and varied opportunities which needs to be tapped. In the informal settlements, most loans are on short term basis between 1 week to six months and default rates are quite low compared with commercial banks.
Mathare Constituency is home to one of the poorest neighbourhoods in Nairobi and also in Kenya. When the Constituency Development Fund was making allocations for 2013/2014, it was announced that the constituency is host to more than 70,000 people who live below poverty.
Since 2013, there has been a lot of movement surrounding Women Fund, Youth Fund and Uwezo Funs plus 30% of government tender set aside to for youth and women. To access these funds, communities need to be engaged and involved. Participation by community members depends on how well informed is community will be.
For the last three years, Inunka Kenya under the banner of Sauti Debates have been organizing Community Forums in Mlango Kubwa, Hospital, Mabatini,Ngei, Huruma and Kiamaiko wards in Mathare Constituency to create awareness amongst community members and engage elected leaders in discussing priority areas. Experience from these debates has shown that five mains issues that have kept on emerging are security, education, health, environment and poor governance.
Observing these debates in session one will appreciate the willingness by community members to participate in these sessions. Regular leaders who have co-operated to participate in these forums are Hon. Andrew Macharia of Mlango Kubwa, Hon. Dan Mutiso Ngei, Hon. Jimmy Kinuthia while Mabatini Ward County Rep. Hon Odalo (Rafuok) has not been having an easy time with high expectations from community which sometimes has even resulted into almost physical confrontation.
It is clear from Sauti Yetu Debates that community members knows what the problem is, while leaders hide behind the policy guidelines governing management of the funds. On the other hand, it is Hon. Andrew Macharia from Mlango Kubwa has hinted in traducing bills at the Nairobi County Assembly parliament that the community would benefit from. Community members have had difficult time understanding the role of elected leaders hence leading to high expectation beyond their mandate. Sauti Yetu Debates have been able to fill in the information gap that is experienced during debate. Currently Sauti Yetu Debates is being handover to experience community based organization to continue organizing such forums in future.
The first step towards real freedom for Africa through scientific independence
This post by Planet Earth Institute is a Q&A with their founder and Chairman, Alvaro Sobrinho, on his vision of Africa’s scientific independence and the Post -2015 debate.
Álvaro Sobrinho, one of Angola’s leading business figures and philanthropists, and Chairman of the Planet Earth Institute, talks about his plans to make Africa a global science hub.
Dr Sobrinho, you have launched a campaign for ‘Africa’s Scientific Independence’, which is also the mandate of the Planet Earth Institute, the charity that you helped establish. Can you tell us a bit about what you mean by that term?
Well, currently, Africa is hugely dependent on the scientific knowledge and expertise of others. As Africans, whether Governments, businesses or societies, we are too often consumers, not producers of scientific innovation or research. As such, we are unable to make the best use of our abundant human and natural resources we are blessed with…
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