Friday, February 23, 2007

Maina Kiai Finds His Voice But Loses The Plot

Finally, the Chairman of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) has spoken out on the gunning down of Simon Matheri Ikeere and an "accomplice" by police, but I was kinda disappointed with what he had to say. I would have expected the top watchdog on human rights to raise the issue of the apparent violation of the suspects' rights and the danger unchecked police action poses to the enjoyment of these rights by others.

Instead, while declaring: "Police have a lot of lies. Why should we believe liars?", he seems to uncritically accept the police line (not subjected to review by any court) that the suspect was indeed the man behind the orgy of killing that has terrorized the capital for the last few weeks. The Nation quotes him as saying: "Tens of police officers where deployed just to kill Matheri and ignored the fact that the gangster would have given them information about who is behind his numerous missions (italics mine)."

He seems to be more concerned with helping the police pump information from suspects than with the protection of the suspects' rights. And why is that? In a blatant ploy to play politics with the crime wave, he continues (according to the Standard): "We want to speak with suspects. We want them to tell us their accomplices. Maybe it is a top politician." He also speculates that the killing of Matheri could be an attempt to cover up the real story.

I expected better.

As I have argued severally on this blog, the denial of the human rights of anyone (that includes those of persons we detest and fear) immediately endangers the same rights for the rest of wananchi. It is immaterial whether we think the suspect is guilty or innocent. When police are allowed to decide who is and isn't guilty, and who does and doesn't deserve to live, we effectively do away with the entire justice system and with the presumption of innocence that protects the rest of us from arbitrary arrests and execution.

That should have been the main concern of the man charged with looking out for our human rights. At the very least I would have expected him to call for an independent and public inquest into the circumstances surrounding the deaths of Matheri and his supposed accomplice. Kiai's "Gotcha!" mentality and approach sullies his otherwise excellent reputation at the KNCHR.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Ghosts of Athi River

Yesterday something remarkable happened. In the full glare of the Press and to a cheering public, the Kenya Police branded a Kenyan citizen "Public Enemy No.1", tracked and executed him in front of his family without according him so much as a court appearance. According to the man's wife, who was a witness to it all, the Police threatened to burn down a house with a pregnant woman and six innocent children inside and when the suspect peacefully gave himself up, he (and an accomplice/friend) were interrogated for 30 minutes before each received a bullet to the back of the head. It was only after he was dead that the Police sent for his father to confirm that they really had gotten their man. Following this, the villagers of Gachie, "determined not to have another Matheri in their midst" as the Standard put it, caught another suspected accomplice, beat him up before setting his body, his house and his belongings on fire.

But, hey, no one wants to rain on the national parade of collective relief and self-congratulation at this rare "success" in the war against crime. No one will ask why our Press, which is meant to give voice to the voiceless, chooses to dismiss out of hand the allegations of Police misconduct and cold-blooded murder levelled by the widow of Simon Matheri Ikeere. No one will question the silence of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission and its normally irrepressible Chairman, Maina Kiai. No one will grieve for Simon, the man known only as "M", and the victim of the Gachie mob; just as no one will shed a tear for the common rights to life, property and due process whose demise we are celebrating today.

We will all cling desperately to the illusion that the above could never happen to us. The Police would never mistakenly or deliberately arrest and kill an innocent man. A mob would never drag us from our homes and lynch us. These guys got what was coming to them. Why waste a judge's time?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Caught in a Spin?

The Nation reports that a team studying ways of making Kenya an industrialised country by 2030 has figured out what needs to change. And that is. . . . nothing! That is, if you believe Government Spokesman Alfred Mutua.

According to the Standard, a book which was yesterday described by Mutua as "a statement of facts....the accountability statement and not a political statement" claims that if the current pace of socio-economic development is maintained, Kenya would attain a First World status by 2030.

Given that we have apparently already cracked the secret to a better and richer life, why is the President chairing a National Economic and Social Council meeting on Kenya's Vision 2030 in Naivasha next week? In fact, seeing as the acting director of Vision 2030 Dr. Wahome Gakuru says that the Council has yet to come up with a master plan, why do we need them (and their vision) at all?

Could it be that the President is wise enough not to get high on his own supply? If so, he should be wary of the spokesman who believes his own spin.

Here's a little something I came across on e-lauGhs that I'm sure Mr. Mutua would appreciate:
This is an actual report that was turned in by a brick mason after an injury.
This is what he said to his employer:

When I got to the building, I found that the hurricane had knocked off some bricks from the top.
So - I rigged up a beam with a pulley at the top of the building, and I hoisted up a couple of barrels full of bricks.
When I had fixed the damaged area, there were a lot of bricks left over. Then I went to the bottom and began releasing the line.
Unfortunately - the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was and before I knew what was happening the barrel started coming down, jerking me up and I decided to hang on since I was too far off the ground by then to jump.
Half way up, I met the barrel of bricks coming down - FAST.
I received a hard blow on my shoulder.
I then continued to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my finger pinched and jammed in the pulley.
When the barrel hit the ground - HARD- it burst its bottom, allowing the bricks to spill out.
I was now heavier than the barrel.
SO - I started dawn again at a high speed!
Half way down, I met the empty barrel coming up - FAST.
I received severe injuries to my shins.
When I hit the ground, I landed on the pile of spilled bricks, getting several painful cuts and deep bruises.
At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because, I let go of the line.
The barrel came down - FAST - giving me another blow on my head, putting me in the hospital.

I respectfully request sick leave.
(And so should you Mr. Government Spokesman)

Ever Wondered?

Where do the wigs and hair extensions our ladyfolk so love come from? Shiyin has a clue:
I saw this programme which basically explains where do wigs and hair extensions come from. No, they are not from dead bodies. In India, little children will collect hairs dropped from their mothers every morning when they comb their hair. Then there are hair collectors who go around collecting these bundles of hair from the children in exchange for sweets and stickers. The hair collectors then sell the hair to hair dealers who employed workers to help separate the strands of hair, wash off the coconut oil and straightened the hair. Then they send the sacks of hair to…. China! They will then dye, perm, sew the hair into wigs and sell them to the western countries. Ta Dah! Fascinating. But I don’t think I will want to do hair extensions after watching the documentary.
As the Kikuyu say: "Mwenda uthaka ndacayaga (he/she who seeks beauty doesn't wince)"

Giving the Devil his Due?

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you - where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast - man's laws, not God's - and if you cut them down - and you're just the man to do it - d'you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

-An excerpt of a dialogue between Sir Thomas More and his daughter's suitor, William Roper, as set forth in Robert Bolt's two-act play, A Man For All Seasons.
The Nation is reporting that most wanted criminal Simon Matheri Ikeere was gunned down at 2 a.m. this morning in Athi River. Though the details are sketchy, it seems that he was shot after he obeyed police orders to exit the house they cornered him in or it would be burnt down. Apparently there was also a woman and six kids in the house at the time.

Now, as much as one may want to congratulate the cops on the elimination of what they told us was a threat to society, I have several problems with the way they went about it. First, the threat to burn down the house shows a callous disregard for the lives of the innocents the police are sworn to protect. Secondly, to gun down a man after he has given up (the Nation story makes no mention of resistance by Ikeere), is an abuse of police firearm procedure and amounts to an extra-judicial execution. Where is the respect for due process?

Far from making me feel any safer, both these actions highlight the need to tame a rogue police force which arrogates to itself the office of judge and executioner. I sincerely hope that the Nation got it wrong on both counts. If not, an independent inquest into this and other police killings should be held post haste. We cannot hope to protect our right to life if we allow the agents of that protection to deal in such an off-hand manner with that right.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The Spoils of War

Now that the government has taken the step of honouring Mau Mau leader Dedan Kimathi more than 50 years after his hanging, I think it is also time that we had an realistic appraisal of the uprising, its leaders, causes and effects. Over the course of half a century, the Mau Mau war has entered into the realm of legend, with little to distinguish between fact and fiction. Many who then opposed or shunned the insurgency nowadays proclaim themselves to be at its forefront, while the real fighters languish in long-forgotten and overgrown graves or are still awaiting the recognition and rewards they insist are due them.

Basics such as the source of the term Mau Mau have yet to be settled. Kimathi himself preferred that his army be called the Kenya Land and Freedom Army and Josiah (JM) Kariuki, who was also interned in prison camps from 1953 to 1960, and later murdered by Kenyatta's agents, talked about the Land and Freedom Army saying that: "The world knows it by a title of abuse and ridicule [Mau Mau] with which it was described by one of its bitterest opponents." The Kikuyu themselves called it Muingi ("The Movement"), Muigwithania ("The Understanding"), Muma wa Uiguano ("The Oath of Unity") or simply "The KCA", after the Kikuyu Central Association that created the impetus for the insurgency.

The statistics of the war itself are also a source of perennial controversy. Some sources have the Kikuyu death toll at nearly 20,000 with, according to Wikipedia, 10,527 Mau Mau killed in action, over 2000 arrested and between 70,000 and 100,000 Kikiuyus interred in concentration camps. The British losses were remarkably light, with less than 100 dead. What accounts for this discrepancy? Was the conflict, as some (including the British) have termed it, a civil war within the Kikuyu community? In a paper entitled "Emergency in Kenya: Kikuyu and the Mau Mau Insurrection", Major Roger D. Hughes of the US Marine Corps says about the conflict:
The Mau Mau movement is usually viewed strictly as being politically motivated toward national independence. The less popular view is endorsed herein, that two separate, multi-facited movements existed, one motivated by nationalism, and the other by a blind, irrational quest for revenge. In the process of each attempting to exploit the other for self-serving purposes, they became uncontrollably intertwined, which resulted in near disaster for the Kikuyu tribe. Totally lacking in quality intelligence regarding the origins of Mau Mau at the outbreak of hostilities in 1952, colonial forces struck out blindly to suppress the violence and treated the movements as one. Thus, the Military resolution is traced through 1956, when the preponderance of hostilities were finally suppressed in what seemed at that time more like an intra-tribal civil war than a war of independence.

And what of tactics? Both sides utilised the tactics of terror and neither spared innocents. Just compare these two accounts, one by Peter Swan, a British policeman who guarded Kimathi after his capture:
The Mau Mau 'Freedom Fighters' were no more than thugs whose terrorist activities were directed mainly at their own tribesman than at the 'whites'. Having come across Meru women, gutted with an unborn child torn from them; children whose heads had been cracked open; an old couple that where burnt alive after being ham-strung to make sure that they couldn't get away, it was difficult for me and the twenty African policeman to have any sympathy for those Mau Mau that we encountered. We took no prisoners. To hear them classed as heroes' of the day goes against the grain.
and another from an Australian living in Kenya during the ‘Emergency’:
We was joined by two of [a settler named] Bill’s mates in another Land Rover and just about dawn we seen two Africans crossing the road ahead. Bill fired a shot across their bow and they put their hands up. I tried to tell Bill that those lads, hardly more than boys they was, didn’t look like Mickeys (Mau Mau) to me but he says, “They’re Kukes and that’s enough for me”. Well he roughs them up some but they say they don’t know where the gang of Mickeys went to, so he gets some rope and ties one to the rear bumper of his Land Rover by his ankles. He drives off a little ways, not too fast you know, and the poor black bastard is trying to keep from ploughing the road with his nose. The other cobbers are laughing and saying, “put it in high gear Bill” and such as that, but Bill gets out and says, “Last chance, Nugu (baboon), where’s that gang?” The African boy keeps saying he’s not Mau Mau, but Bill takes off like a bat out of hell. When he comes back, the nigger wasn’t much more than pulp. He didn’t have any face left at all. So Bill and his mates tie the other one to the bumper and ask him the same question. He’s begging them to let him go but old Bill takes off again and after a while he comes back with another dead Mickey. They just left the two of them there in the road.
Even accounts of Kimathi himself tend to differ with this TIME Magazine article, published in 1956 and titled "The Terrorist" saying of him:
There was no fiercer character in all the jungle than Dedan Kimathi, a scarred, stocky ex-clerk who had fought and jockeyed his way to the leadership of all the guerrillas. Not content with his popular title, "General Russia," Dedan capped his arrogance by calling himself Field Marshal Sir Dedan Kimathi and appointing a parliament of his own to preside over....A refugee captured by Kenya police as he left Kimathi's camp recently has provided a vivid picture of the once great chieftain in his twilight hour. Broken in health and mind, 35-year-old Dedan Kimathi now spends his days making wild speeches to the jungle trees and his nights raving endlessly. He lies on a litter of branches, blubbering and blabbering about reform in the Liberation army, while his friends search the woods for monkeys to eat. Whenever a police patrol comes near, the 20 loyal henchmen (and teen-age henchwomen) who still surround him hustle Kimathi into a nearby cave and gag him to keep him quiet.
while Peter Swan, quoted above, paints an entirely different picture of the man:
Our first hours together were almost silent. My command of Kikuyu language was reduced to the long drawn out greetings 'Moogerrrh' which should have elicited the reply 'Moogerrhni'. His command of Kiswahili and mine were similar, in that we were both well versed in what was loosely termed Kaffir Swahili. He was, I discovered, soon after joining him in the hospital, well versed in English and we later spent time swapping tales of our bush activities in that language. His wound was in the thigh and he had to be stretchered everywhere. Up to then he had received rudimentary first aid and he was still dressed in the leopard skins that had been his trade mark during his Mau Mau operations....Dedan Kimathi and I sat and read the books that I brought in to pass the time. Our conversations were occasional and without animosity or conflict on either side. He knew the penalty for his activity was death, and he expected that sentence. He believed that the sentence would not be executed and that he would survive. There was a quiet and distant confidence in his belief.
I think Kenyans deserve to know the truth about what has come to be known as the fight for Uhuru and why it is the sons of the homeguards, not the "freedom fighters" who reaped the fruits of independence. Why is it that the Mau Mau continued to be a proscribed organisation up till 2003? Why do we insist on honouring dead fighters while ignoring the plight of those still alive? The blog What An African Woman Thinks has an informative interview with some of these fighters including Field Marshal Muthoni, in which one General Karangi, "is hard put to understand why those who successfully evaded bullet, bomb and grenade are less praiseworthy than the one who got caught".

While the Mau Mau lost the military fight against the British, they lived to see the White Man ejected from Kenya. However, 50 years on, their land and legacy is now being stolen anew by those who collaborated with the colonialists. It seems to me that we, as Kenyans, have striven to erase from our minds what should be a heroic chapter in our common history. Instead we seem determined to construct a new tale in which the villains of yesterday become the heroes of today while the real fighters, their accomplishments, and eventual betrayal is consigned to history's dustbin.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh No! Not Another Promise...

The Nation reports that President Mwai Kibaki, meeting with Electoral Commissioners yesterday, promised that the government would not interfere in the operations of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). Now, them's fightin' words!

This President has a habit of prefacing each of his betrayals with a promise not to do the same. For example, in April 2003, when opening the Constitution review talks, the President promised that his government would "not interfere with the review process". Less than 7 months later, he sent mounted police to stop Prof Yash Pal Ghai and a group of delegates from reopening the third sitting of the national conference at the Bomas of Kenya. His litany of broken promises (both to the public and his fellow politicians), and the fact that he has recently torn up the 1997 IPPG "Gentleman's Agreement" which allowed the opposition a voice in the selection of ECK commissioners, is proof enough that this is another vow he has no intention of honouring.

Consider yourselves warned.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Iraqi Faces

See photo here (WARNING: Not for the faint-hearted)
AMMAN, 11 Feb 2007 (IRIN) - Though her name means ‘the sun’ in English, 18-month-old Shams may never be able to experience sunlight in her life again. Half her face was blown away in an explosion in Baghdad, leaving her eyes buried under badly burnt skin.

Shams was with her parents when three cars exploded in Al Sadr, the predominantly Shia area of Baghdad, last year. Her mother died instantly. Shams survived to become a living testimony of the brutality of war. Read More

While the primary responsibility for this tragedy lies with the heartless "insurgents" who constructed and detonated the car bomb, the US has to shoulder its share of the blame for her fate. Prior to the 2003 invasion, UN sanctions and Saddam's cruelty had already made life unbearable for the children of Iraq. But that must now seem like an idyllic time compared to the unending chaos that the country has been plunged into -largely by the myopia, incompetence and stupidity that characterised the US occupation.

Those, such as presidential hopeful Barack Obama, who are calling for a speedy US withdrawal should consider what that would mean for the likes of Shams. Do they really believe that her life would be more secure? And what of the US obligation to repair what it has so callously destroyed? Do they believe that that would be accomplished with fewer troops? On the eve of the invasion, then Secretary of State Colin Powell told President George W. Bush: "You break it, you own it". Obama and his fellow advocates of withdrawal want to disown the mess they have created. They are primarily concerned about American lives and American votes. The fate of innocents like Shams is of little value in their calculations.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Promising Candidates? Don't You Believe It!

Why do Kalonzo Musyoka, Raila Odinga, Musalia Mudavadi, Wiliam Ruto and Uhuru Kenyatta want to be President of Kenya? Could they perhaps have some vision of how best this country can be governed for the befits of its citizens? Not if you believe Mbita MP Otieno Kajwang'. The Standard quotes him:
"Kalonzo’s supporters say he is the best, going by opinion polls. Mudavadi is being told he is a coward who left for Uhuru the other time so he must run to prove he is not. Raila’s people say he has struggled and supported other people for too long. The people of Rift Valley are investing in Ruto and he has to carry on. Uhuru is a party chairman, so if you tell him not to run, it is like killing his party."
The sad fact is none of these gentlemen is interested in my welfare (or yours, for that matter). They are too busy looking out for Numero Uno. The process of picking a presidential candidate offers a great opportunity for political parties to debate issues and work out their platforms. An opportunity that is being wasted. I expect that come election day, we will be inundated with half-baked pie-in-the-sky promises of the heaven that awaits us should we elect whoever is on the ticket. Promises that will surely not (and probably cannot) be kept as they were not the result of a deliberative process but were "roadside declarations" made with little thought of their implications.

Aren't these guys supposed to be better than the septuagenarians they are trying to remove from office?

The thought of 420,000 delegates converging in Nairobi from all over the country to select the party's candidate for President seems to be a recipe for chaos. Has anyone considered the logistics of coordinating such a huge gathering? Where would they all meet? How would they vote? Where would they sleep? Witness the fiasco that was the World Social Forum. And that was less than 100,000 people. However, I doubt that the party owners, making decisions in the luxury of 5-star hotels, lose any sleep over this.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Raila Comes Clean (not that he meant to!)

Some recent statements by Raila Odinga have struck me as rather odd.

On Sunday, the Standard quoted him as saying:
"Kibaki’s men wanted Moi prosecuted after the 2002 poll but I stood firm and said it would set a bad precedent for the country."
He proudly declares that he was responsible the cover-up of all cover-ups: allowing Moi and his cronies to go scot-free after 24 years of plunder. Why should we believe his promises to go after the Murungis and Mwirarias of the current administration? Surely he wouldn't want to go against the "good precedent" he himself created?

Then on Tuesday, he wrote (again in the Standard):
"In one of the policy contradictions, the Government demolishes habitable houses and still hopes to spend Sh884 billion to upgrade slums. . . . Housing minister Mr Soita Shitanda admitted that the Government has not lived up to its social responsibilities and pledges. The Government has constructed only 30,000 housing units in four years as opposed to 150,000 units a year President Kibaki promised in 2002."
Wasn't Raila the minister in charge when the government went round demolishing houses in 2004? Wasn't he Housing Minister for 2 years prior to Shitanda? By his own account then, he not is only guilty of policy contradictions but also failed miserably to achieve his housing targets during his tenure. Most alarmingly for one who's running for President, the article does not contain a single policy initiative that, if elected, he would implement to solve the housing problem.

Je n'accuse pas!

Dear President Mwai Kibaki,

Recently some bloggers (including this one and most notably M) have taken to calling your administration "mediocre". I am writing this in defense of your record and to repudiate that manifestly unfair adjective. A look at some of your accomplishments should put such hyperbole to rest.

30,000 out 750,000 promised housing units is worse than mediocre;

the fact that wanted criminals can come to our country, brazenly break our laws while holding press conferences at the VIP lounge in JKIA, and obtain security passes to every corner of our airports is worse than mediocre;

scuttling the constitutional review process after a promise from you not to interfere and the attempt to impose a bastardized version is worse than mediocre;

the total collapse of the war against corruption, the failure to secure convictions against all but one of the accused "big fish" and pardoning the one who was netted, and the retention of tainted individuals in your Cabinet is worse than mediocre;

the failure to contain rampant crime and disband the illegal militias such as Mungiki is worse than mediocre;

the failure to plan for implementation of the free primary education policy leading to class sizes of 120 in some cases, shortages of schools and teachers, and consequent poor quality of instruction is worse than mediocre;

the betrayal of more than 15 years of agitation for democratic reform through harassment of journalists, illegal raids on media premises, attempts to interfere with registration of political parties and their officials, violent and unprovoked police attacks on peaceful demonstrators is worse than mediocre;

the wholesale abdication of your responsibilities as President, most notably the failure to tame your Cabinet and the failure to appoint a tribual to remove the AG after his numerous failings (nolle prosequis, poor drafting of law, accusations of abetting graft) is worse than mediocre.

I hope that this post will provide you and yours a modicum of relief from the unfounded and unjustified accusations of overachievement. I commend you on your studious silence in the matters mentioned above. The words of the French journalist Emile Zola, in his famous article J'accuse!, should bring you much comfort: "La verite est en marche et rien ne l'arretera" (truth is on the march and nothing can stop it).

Friday, February 02, 2007

CDF: A Pact with the Devil

I was recently amused to see Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki wrestling over who deserves the credit for the poisoned chalice that is the Constituency Development Fund. The CDF was a bad idea. Actually, it was a really bad idea. The Fund violates the constitutional separation of powers (the MPs both make and implement law), gives government an excuse to abdicate its frontal role in conceiving and implementing development, and does not take into account the development status and needs of various regions, districts and constituencies. However, these concerns pale into insignificance when compared to the financial implications. For this is truly a pact with the devil. Giving MPs access to 2.5% of government expenditure under the pretext of developing their constituencies was quite simply the fiscal equivalent of letting the hyenas loose among the sheep.

The Constituencies Development Fund Act gives MPs unfettered powers to constitute and convene Constituency Development Committees which have the power to select and approve the projects to be funded. This gives the MP, to whom the CDC is beholden, total control over where the cash ends up. Now consider some of the tales that have come out of the CDF audits (which by the way are carried out by Parliament making MPs accountable only to themselves) and studies by other independent bodies.

The Kenya Times reports that 90 per cent of the sitting MPs have not only mismanaged these monies but have gone" ahead to institute CDF committees both at the village and national levels largely based on nepotism." There have been reports of MPs appointing their wives, relatives and even the relatives of their domestic staff to CDCs. In a nationwide survey conducted by the Kenya Institute of Public Research and Analysis (KIPPRA), only a paltry 15 per cent of the respondents believed there was accountability and transparency in the management of CDF money while a whopping 46% believed the cash to be widely mismanaged. The Daily Nation also reports that MPs have insisted on the money being used for projects of their own choice and in areas of their preference. In short the CDF has become a gravy train for MPs to pay their relatives and reward their supporters. Instead of devolving resources to the constituency, the CDF has proven to be devolution to Parliament.

In spite of the mounting evidence of mismanagement, MPs are said to be opposed to the National CDF Management Committee's moves to recruit qualified personnel to take full charge of the co-ordination and management of the projects being undertaken with the funds. Their reluctance is understandable considering the the money allocated to CDF has been steadily rising from 5.6 billion in 2005 to 10 billion in last year's budget. And it is set to go even higher. Last year Parliament passed a law raising the annual CDF kitty to 21 billion shillings (7% of government expenditure), an amount roughly equal to what has been disbursed under the Fund in the last four years. And it just happens that that would be implemented in an election year. This election year to be precise.

The stench of rats is in the air. Combined with the just launched Youth Enterprise Development Fund (another 1 billion shillings), the stage has been set for vote buying on the scale of Youth for Kanu in 1992. Only, instead of printing money, this time the politicians have opted to bribe voters with their own taxes.

The CDF may have been conceived in hopes of addressing the fact that development funds were not felt on the ground and infusing some rationality, fairness and regularity in the process of allocating development resources nationally, but there are better and smarter ways of doing this. There must be.

Gambian President Cures AIDS on Thursdays

Remember South African President Thabo Mbeki's ridiculous claim that HIV did not cause AIDS and his governments reluctance to provide ARVs to its citizens (I won't even start on his idiot of a Health Minister)? Well the Gambians have gone one better. The BBC reports that the President of Gambia claims he can cure AIDS in three days. President Yahya Jammeh said last month he had begun treating 10 patients on Thursdays with secret medicinal herb ingredients.
"I can treat asthma and HIV/Aids... Within three days the person should be tested again and I can tell you that he/she will be negative," he said in a statement. "I am not a witch doctor and in fact you cannot have a witch doctor. You are either a witch or a doctor."
Gambian Health Minister Tamsir Mbow says the herbal medicines are taken orally and applied to the body. "We cannot actually tell you the type of herbs we are using presently, it will be known to the whole world later on," Dr Mbow told the BBC.
One of the patients currently undergoing the treatment is Gambian university lecturer Ousman Sowe. "I've noticed I've increased weight substantially over the last 10 days. I am no longer suffering from constipation, but we have yet to receive result of the tests," he told the BBC. "I have 100% confidence in the president and I'm taking the medication with all confidence.
I guess Mr. Jammeh's procedure also involves getting the country's parliament to pass a bill stating that the patient in question no longer has AIDS and banning VCT centres not run by the government. 100% success rate guaranteed. And no matter if the said patient dies. After all, he couldn't possibly have died of AIDS, said anti-AIDS bill having been passed into law! It could only be propaganda by the foreign-financed opposition who are hell-bent on causing chaos and despondency. All hail the wise and peerless Yahya Jammeh!

Is it me or does Africa seem to have more than its fair share of imbeciles in positions of leadership?