By Oloo Winnie
The 53rd Jamhuri Day speech by President Kenyatta on the possible electoral influence of the International Community betrays a government that fears that its failures have been recorded globally, or one that has let the foreign entities control most of its policies and economy.
Whichever way one chooses to look at it, this bitter speech by the country’s chief executive confirms that us as a nation we are “not yet uhuru”, and that we are living in a deplorable state, at least for the millions of poverty-stricken Kenyans living upon the mercies of donor funding to keep up the life.
Here is a fact; national records indicate that in Kenya alone, we have over 7000 registered NGOs operating in the country. This figure, according to estimates, might triple if government does not address poverty and good governance issues. This number is huge and would worry any conscientious officer of State governing a country where 60 per cent of its population is young, poor, unemployed and constantly complaining of a corrupt system, with just six months into the general election.
The President said that there were funds “already trickling into the country”, purportedly to influence electoral choices. He further dissuaded Kenyans not to “look kindly people of such actions.”
Peter Willets, in his book, The conscience of the World: The Influence of Non Governmental Organizations in the UN System, describes an NGO as “a non-political organisation that should not ‘openly engage in violence or advocate violence as a political tactic, that should be able to raise funds from their members or voluntary contributions.” NGOs, he adds, are founded by people who voluntarily associate with an aim of working together to achieve a common objective. Such a goal may be short or long-term, professional, needs-driven or otherwise.
A further reason for the existence of NGOs is because they are/ought to be an independent group of people working to promote an activity that is not being undertaken by governments. Alternatively, governments may already be involved in an activity but groups are formed in order to challenge the way government is handling it. If government would handle well its roles and duties to benefit its citizens, the thousands of the NGOs would lose their grip on the political and economic affairs in Kenya.
Another fact is that Kenyan healthcare services top the beneficiary list of the donor funds at Sh71.4 billion. HIV/Aids medication and campaigns takes up to 15 per cent, followed by agriculture and children at 8%. International donor funding has also led to the employment of more than 77,000 people in the year 2014 alone.
The organisations have also been important in the fields of human rights, disaster relief, development and the environment. It is estimated that official aid to Kenyan NGOs amounts to about US$35 million (Sh3.6 billion) a year, which is about 18 per cent of all official aid received by Kenya annually.
The role of NGOs in Kenya fills the gap not yet fully sustained by the government, so much that it’s tremendous influence is terribly feared to influence election choices. The situation about the two warring super powers does not, in any way, benefit millions of Kenyans who voted a government with manifestos. Voting in and being able to take the authority position, Kenyans entrust Government to cater to some of its ailing needs. Many might argue that this type of development does not take a day, for even Rome was not built in 24 hours. The truth is that the Kenyan dream can be realised in five years if the manifestos of the rulers are to be fulfilled according to its promises. When a country where inequitable resource distribution screams out to the entire world, then that State will definitely attract some organisations in the name of well wishers reaching out to fund the faces of mysteries and hunger that citizens go through.
More developed countries, however, depends little on funds offered by the global community and are spared from the opinions that they have because they have done their part to secure their status in the upper hand economy and social status. They can celebrate their freedom and even put aside some funds to assist struggling African nations. Leaders like Uhuru normally observe this control in the so-called Third World as a threat to the government of the day.
State hostility to global communities is usually evident when it is not compliant with ratified conventions or when its actions do not meet up to international best practice. This is particularly so because international organisations and movements have been very influential in shaping the discourse within which international decision-making and action occurs. Since these governments may depend on their status as members of the global community, abiding by the norms of the “civilised” world, NGOs are often seen to pose a direct threat.
Some of the activities NGOs engage in include disseminating information, raising awareness, policy advocacy, joint operational projects, and providing technical expertise. Their representation the UN puts them in a position to play the cards to the poor countries, which subsequently find it challenging to formulate own policies.
Kenya is not yet fully developed economically to maintain her growing population. This is a situation that could be aided if the Kenyan leaders decided to undertake meaningful development, so that then we can claim to be truly and freely dependent. Only after that can a leader stand in a podium to address millions of and dictate how we should run our country, while ignoring monetary aid packages meant to seduce our dignity and allegiance to our motherland. Until then, we will just have to work with whoever is willing to help us with our problems.