It is funny how life can turn around. A country that was tilting on the edge and threatening to follow the legacy of Africa's failed states, is now back to full life and life is back to normal.
Residents of Nairobi, who were adversaries and concerned about their ethnic background, are now united in attacking the local government minister for changing the public transport routes and forcing people to walk long distances. Hawkers and small scale traders are now united in calling for an expanded market and proper lighting for them to do business at night. The ethnic hatred seems to have been pushed aside and now people are pushing a common agenda and pursuing economic survival.
Online discussions also reflect the diversity, bloggers are concerned about the Initial Public Offer (IPO) of East Africa's largest and most successful Mobile phone company- Safaricom. In the political front, the discussions are more balanced and sober compared to discussions two months ago.
The sale of Safaricom serves as a huge sign that the government is united because before the elections, the opposition was against the sale of the shares. Now, they are all backing Kenya's richest company.
Kumekucha was surprised that opposition leader Raila Odinga had turned around and supported the IPO yet he spoke aganist it during campaigns:
Raila met yesterday with Finance Minister Amos Kimunya and even the finance minister who barely 4 months ago said that the
Nairobi stock exchange was not a fish market in a thinly veiled personal attack targeting Hon Raila Odinga is now all of a sudden talking very respectfully about Raila. He referred to Raila and President Kibaki as “our two leaders” in a press conference where he appeared to be in a jovial mood, yesterday.
This is hardly the time for hero worship, but it is important that Hon Raila Odinga explains to the public what has brought about this change of heart. Don’t get me wrong, I am happy about the new found unity and co-operation between these two leaders who brought
Kenya to it’s worst crisis yet and to the brink of civil war. Under these circumstances peace is very desirable above anything else, and I mean anything.
……Still my final word on this issue is that whatever the price, I am sure it is worth it. Better peace and let us pay it. After all one can never compare human life (which is priceless) to anything else under the sun. Still, I just thought that Kenyans should be informed.
One comment on the Kumekucha blog sums up the issue of politics, business and politicking in Kenya and their relationship with the poor (majority):
Like i have stated before, politics in Kenya is about class interests. You can now see which class the MPs will work for, with all of them targeting to be multi-millionaires within 5 years. Come 2010 and the succession battle begins proper they will start opposing everything the government does…and we will be ready to applaud them as our heroes, leaders, martyrs, etc.
Kenyanentrepreneur wonders whether people care about the IPO:
Having said that, the LSE needs to mobilise ordinary Kenyans in the rural areas to buy shares during the IPOs and also participate in the stock exchange in general. And I mean in real rural places such as Githunguri, Bondo, Matuu, Kabartonjo, Mumias, Wajir, Mwatate, Mazeras, Lodwar etc etc etc.
Kenyans need to become more sophisticated in their investment options. They will then stop fighting each other in medieval style with bows and arrows over scraps of land.
Kenyans need to realise that they can invest in the New York Stock Exchange even though they are based in their villages.
Businessinfocus questions the moral and ethical issues behind the offer, wondering whether the shares should have been issued later in the year:
…..hence the aura of urgency he brought in the matter citing a wide range of fiscal and monetary commitments that would not be met if Safaricom was not sold. These have since come to naught many months after the December sale failed to materialise. Mr Kimunya’s silence over these commitments while he speeds on with the sale is informed by the reality on the ground. He can no longer tell Kenyans for certain that programmes or projects will fail to materialize this financial year if Safaricom is not immediately sold because he knows that Treasury cannot have the proceeds in its coffers any time before July when the new fiscal year begins.
…Then there is the moral question of the authority of what is basically a transition government under which Mr Kimunya is serving as Finance minister to undertake such an important exercise only a few days before a new government is formed. Indications that President Kibaki may form a new government before the end of this week after Parliament passes the necessary Bills only leave the grim prospect that the minister’s action is driven by personal and sectarian interests.
For a sneak preview of the hawkers’ and public transport crisis that is looming, Tengeza has uploaded a Googlemap of the chaotic scene that demonstrates the poor planning that is Kenya's public infrastructure.