Donald Trump behaves more and more like an African president with each passing day. Ivanka Trump has been in the headlines for being America’s new diplomat because she was seen seated at the front row during a photo op in Osaka, after bilateral meetings that she had attended with President Trump.
Mostly, such meetings are attended by heads of state and diplomats – you know, people who have a background in foreign policy. For this case, it would be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
President Trump has been all over the headlines, including the front page of the North Korean government-run newspaper for meeting with Kim Jong Un.
There was wonder as to why the individual who heads the National Security Council, John Bolton, missed the trip to North Korea, yet Ivanka was present, gleefully behind the scenes as this historic event unfolded.
For presidents to have close family members in high-level positions linked to State House is not unheard of. We have seen presidents hire their brothers to head certain departments or ministries.
Most African governments will have the president’s support staff headed by a family member. The thing, though, is that African presidents end up among the wealthiest people in the world. They may not enter power that way, but they all leave power in that fashion.
Wealth accumulation is intertwined with our politics. Look at Kenya, where some voted for a president based the fact that he comes from a wealthy family, so the corruption in the administration would be reduced… Yet, research demonstrates that this is one of the most corrupt administrations we have witnessed in our time, with one scandal after the other.
Wealthy people have similar characteristics: They find it very difficult to trust, so they surround themselves with people that they trust and it says a lot about the wealthy — that they can only trust people who have the same blood that runs through their veins.
Hence, many end up working with children, siblings and in some cases spouses, while most people have to build relationships with strangers in the workplace and hope for the best.
Because they trust few people, they listen to very few advisers and individuals who hold these positions end up being familiar family members. In some cases, even those family members have no say when it comes to forming an opinion – some leaders just do not listen and go by their own gut feelings.
But just how was President Trump able to hire his firstborn daughter? Even with the Federal Anti- Nepotism Law passed in 1967, because president John Kennedy appointed his brother Robert Kennedy as Attorney General; Trump was able to circumvent the law due to the definition of the word agency, which can be translated to department.
Since Ivanka is working under the White House, it is not considered an agency.
Ivanka was never vetted for the position by the Senate, she also has no form of oversight and no background in foreign policy and international relations. And when you look at her job description, it is quite vague, leaving her the freedom and flexibility to be involved with anything she feels like.
Positions that have no criteria are not unheard of here. Almost sounds like chief administrative secretary, new positions to assist Cabinet secretaries in Kenya. There was a bit of confusion as to where in the hierarchy they would stand and how they would work.
The positions were announced, some given vague job titles such as “with no portfolio” as part of description. Positions dished out like awards for good behaviour in supporting a political campaign, and sticking it out.
Trump actually thought of appointing Ivanka to head the World Bank, because he thought that she was good with numbers.
There are several appointed individuals in our current government that hold positions that they have no educational background to back up. They are even vetted, but still sail through because vetting is a form of activity not to investigate and interrogate the capabilities of an individual but just part of the process.
The Fourth of July this year was celebrated military style in the United States. That is how most of us celebrate our independence days — with a display of the military might.
Nerima Wako- Ojiwa is executive director of Siasa Place. Twitter: @NerimaW
Our wizards saw the Brave New World, but none saw coronavirus
Last year in December, Nation Media Group held its first Kusi Ideas Festival in Kigali. The festival tried to peer ahead the next 60 years in Africa.
There were many Brave New World ideas about how that future might look like, and also the perils that progress almost always brings. Needless to say, no one saw Covid-19 coming.
A futurist curtain-raiser in The EastAfrican, titled Africa in 2079, came close to outlining a mirror universe to the one Covid-19 is bequeathing us.
Between London, Zimbabwe, and the corners of Africa where Econet’s fibre optic network reaches, Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless and former chair of the board of AGRA wrote:
“I recently invested in a tech start-up that has created an Uber-like platform for tractors, enabling farmers to link up with a central database and order a tractor via SMS…freeing the farmer from the drudgery of the hoe. This service is particularly valued by women farmers, enabling them to circumvent social norms that might otherwise hamper their ability to hire a tractor.” From wherever we are hiding from the virus, unable to roam the farm, Uber farming could be the new way a lot of our food is produced.
From Tanzania, Aidan Eyakuze, who is executive director of Twaweza East Africa and has been confined in-country as an elegant prisoner for nearly two years because of his love of inconvenient data, painted an intoxicating but strange utopian-dystopian picture of Africa at the end the century.
By 2079, he foresaw the “vast majority of Africans earn their living through multiple micro-tasking (MMTs) ever since every ”job” was unbundled into its component tasks…leaving only those unbundled micro-tasks needing social intelligence, creativity or dexterity to be done by people. All ”taskers” are always-on private contractors who bid relentlessly for the privilege of tasking.
Incomes are kept low by the relative scarcity of tasks requiring the human touch.
“The unrelenting competition for tasks is both stressful and socially divisive — you are competing against everyone all the time…even marriages have renewable term limits, ‘in case someone better comes along.’” With work-from-home regimes, the former has come 78 years earlier.
Indeed, even for the latter, more people now probably think being cooped up with the same man or woman in the house “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part,” is a very archaic model.
Between Italy and Kenya, the Society for International Development’s Arthur Muliro, peered into a what a truly borderless Africa might look. Among others, his gaze settled on, of all places, Libya.
“Libya…was now welcoming other Africans and allowing them to settle. The peace deal that had come after a decade of civil war was holding and there was new optimism, in part boosted by the arrival and expansion of new migrant groups who had settled there and were helping rebuild their adopted country.”
On a close re-reading, turns out Aidan hinted that Turkey, which jumped in the Libyan fray as the coronavirus made its way out of Wuhan, might have something to do with it.
Stadiums progress welcome – Daily Nation
Last week, the Sports ministry’s top officials, led by Chief Administrative Secretary Hassan Noor Hassan and Principal Secretary Joe Okudo traversed the country to access the ongoing construction of stadiums.
President Uhuru Kenyatta also made an impromptu tour of the Nyayo National Stadium to ensure that all is well besides giving Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed full support. That has made sure that renovation works resume at all the stadiums — including Kasarani, Nyayo, Kipchoge Keino, Kamariny and Wote — and that everything is running on schedule.
Upon completion of some of these arenas, the country will have positioned itself to host major world events, especially in football, athletics and basketball. The ministry must, therefore, ensure that, while it has given contractors an ultimatum to finish their work, it also insists on quality delivery.
But there are concerns about work at county stadiums, especially in Mombasa, where those who redesigned the arena have done away with the internationally approved running track.
The new stadium has been designed for football only hence won’t host any track and field events. The four lane track will only be for warm up and this has raised eyebrows.
Mombasa County Chief Sports Officer Innocent Mugabe said Bububu grounds in Likoni and Kenya Ports Authority’s Mbaraki Sports Club will be upgraded for sports use. Mombasa being at low altitude, it is suitable for staging major World Athletics events, having staged the 2007 World Cross Country Championships.
Kenya is bidding to host the 2025 World Championships in Athletics and Mombasa can easily be the venue with a good stadium in place. There is still time to build a county stadium.
Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly
When Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha announced a fortnight ago the postponement of school reopening to January next year, he gave an exception. Universities, teacher training colleges and technical training institutions were directed to be ready to reopen in September.
Consequently, they were asked to put in place safety measures prescribed by the Health ministry, including reorganising classrooms and hostels to ensure social distancing. Just a month to the planned reopening, are those institutions really prepared?
In the past few days, Prof Magoha has convened meetings with the heads of the institutions to plan for the reopening and visiting the colleges to assess their preparedness. Preliminary reports from these engagements indicate that just a few institutions are ready.
At the university level, so far, only Strathmore has been declared ready for reopening. Ensure reopening of schools runs smoothly
For teachers’ colleges, three — Murang’a, Kibabii and Kericho — have met the threshold. Assessment is ongoing for the technical training institutions.
But the broad observation is that most of the institutions are not ready. Though not surprising, most of them are ordinarily in poor state and Covid-19 has just exposed them. Beyond the situation, long-term actions are required to revamp and revitalise them.
Reopening the colleges in September will be the starting point for relaxing restrictions in the education sector. The reason for beginning with colleges is that they have mature students who understand the health protocols and can, therefore, take care of themselves and minimise infections. Their experience would then inform plans for reopening primary and secondary schools.
Closure of schools and colleges has dealt a huge blow to education. Learners in schools have lost a whole year and have to repeat classes next year. This comes with high social, economic and psychological. Indeed, this is the first time in history that schools are being closed for a year.
The last time the education sector suffered most was in 1982, when, following an abortive coup, the University of Nairobi and then-Kenyatta University College were closed for nine months. That created a major backlog and that took five years to clear. This is the reason steps should be taken at the earliest opportunity to mitigate the damage.
The challenge, therefore, is for the colleges to work on those health protocols to prepare for reopening. All other sectors, such as transport and tourism, are reopening and, therefore, colleges have no reason to lag behind. We ask the management of the institutions to expedite the required processes and get ready for reopening in September as directed.