It’s always been known that politicians, with their grandstanding and rhetoric and facility with acronyms, might be better at campaigning than they are at the actual business of governing. Kenya’s trying to solve this problem by tackling the issue head-on, and forcing their leaders to learn the basics – at school. By SIMON ALLISON.
In a comprehensive programme, all Kenyan MPs, senators, governors, cabinet secretaries and elected county officials will attend classes hosted by the Kenyan Institute of Administration (soon to be renamed School of Government). They’ll be trained on all those things you wish your politicians already knew – like how to spend public funds wisely, how to make sure they comply with the constitution, how to write reports, how to be accountable and transparent in governance and how to maintain gender equity (employ more women, apparently).
But Kenyan politicians have a better excuse for ignorance than most. The country’s new constitution has only been in force for one year, and it’s full of revolutionary, new-fangled concepts that the old hands can’t be expected to pick up up on their own. Little things such as effective separation of powers, respect for gender, the protection of human rights and the right of freedom of the media.
It remains to be seen if Kenya’s top two politicians, President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, will have a few classroom sessions themselves. One suspects that after their performance in Kenya’s last elections – where the country’s stability was shattered by bitter fighting between their two parties – they could both do with intensive courses in government for the people rather than themselves. DM
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Photo: Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki (C) displays the constitution during the promulgation of the new constitution at the Uhuru Park grounds in the capital Nairobi, August 27, 2010. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya.
Watermelons were originally cultivated in Africa.