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Letter from Africa: Is Kenya building bridges to nowhere? - Kenyans247 / General - Kenyans247

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Letter from Africa: Is Kenya building bridges to nowhere? by Kenyans247(m): Mon Dec 2019 10:48am
In our series of letters from African writers, journalist Waihiga Mwaura asks whether Kenya's divides can ever be bridged.

Twenty-one months ago, Kenya's opposition leader Raila Odinga and his bitter rival President Uhuru Kenyatta kissed and made up - metaphorically.

In fact they shook hands for the cameras - in what became known as "the Handshake".

It ended months of tensions following disputed elections, which always tend to be highly divisive and deadly in Kenya.

The two leaders agreed to put together a team to find a way to end such instability.

This taskforce, known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI), was to look at nine issues - including ethnic antagonism, corruption and devolution - thought to be among the greatest challenges since the country became independent in 1963.

'Educating parents'
After 18 months travelling around the East African nation, the BBI has just delivered its finding - to much fanfare.

Mr Odinga told those gathered for the launch that before the process began, the nation had been on the "brink of a precipice".

The president added: "We were not in a good place as a country. We were divided. There were no-go zones for certain communities."

The pair were unified in embracing the BBI's recommendations.

Some of the key proposals include:

Introducing the position of a prime minister as a way to dilute power
Giving Kenya's 47 counties bigger budgets to implement development schemes
Making the cabinet leaner and more representative of the nation
Giving corruption scam whistleblowers 5% of any funds recovered.
Another suggestion in the 156-page report is to introduce parenting classes "for all new parents so that they know how to properly instruct, correct, rebuke, and support their children".
Some have hailed the report as unifying, comprehensive and the beginning of the process of rebuilding the nation.

They also applaud the taskforce for not substantially increasing the tax burden on Kenyans by introducing many constitutional posts as had been rumoured would happen.

'Long working hours not tackled'
But the document is also facing its fair share of opposition.

Some critics say that in the aftermath of the 2007 election, there were various reports and committees that looked into the causes of the violence that pointed to irregular land allocation and various economic crimes and human rights abuses.

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