Tuesday, June 07, 2005

NARC Regime Using Strike as a Ruse to Implement Donors' Retrenchment Ultimatum

Onyango Oloo Exposes The Hand of the IMF Pulling the Ntimama, Kulundu, Mwiraria Puppet Strings...

"Kenya has promised donors it will cut its workforce by 21,000..." CNN news report, June 6, 2005

Because of the neo-colonial structure of our Kenyan economy and the fact that key government decisions are not made in Nairobi but frequently Washington and London where these dictums are first mooted by our imperialist overlords, it is often instructive to turn to mainstream overseas news sources to give us a more honest and credible picture of what is happening within Kenya.

Take for example the current chest thumping of the Ntimamas, Kulundus, Mwirarias and Mutuas. If you were to listen to them you would think that the hundreds of thousands of striking Kenyan public sector workers had it coming when they defied a government order not to down their tools.

We are told that the government acted to thwart an illegal action and do something about the plight of suffering wananchi left stranded without services in the hospitals and other workplaces of the civil servants. In this regard, all three mainstream daily newspapers have gone out of their way to demonize the civil servants- as if it is the civil servants who make millions of Kenyans to be sick or deny them the basic amenities of life that leave them vulnerable to bouts of ill health.

The truth of the matter is that the Kibaki government is cynically manipulating the strike to implement an otherwise unpopular and politically volatile and untenable austere and severe retrenchment plan to lay off at least 25,000 Kenyan civil servants.

A mainstream, pro-imperialist outlet such as CNN that has nothing to fear from exposing this odious plot reports on this in a very matter of fact way as can be gleaned from this link. The last paragraph of the following Reuters report bolsters what I am saying.

Speaking today (June 6th, 2005) Kiraitu Murungi was quite forthright about the Kenyan government's rationale in sacking the striking workers as you can see from this statement that is reported in tomorrow's Daily Nation:

Justice and Constitutional Affairs (minister), Mr Kiraitu Murungi, said the Government had no option but to sack the striking workers. He accused the union leaders of having misled their members to go on strike instead of pursuing dialogue with the Government. Speaking in his office, Mr Murungi said: "There is need to have a leaner and more efficient civil service, which will be able to provide the necessary services to the public."

He said this even as the same Daily Nation reported on a shameless divide and rule tactic by the Kibaki regime:

...in Central Province, it was announced that workers who had participated in the strike would not be fired.The personal assistant to the PC Peter Raburu, Mr B. N. Mugambi said civil servants who had downed their tools on the first day of the strike had resumed the following and they would, therefore, be spared.

Perhaps it may be useful to take a look at the real story-the retrenchments demanded by the Western donors.

First, here is a letter written by David Mwiraria to the IMF on December 6, 2004.

Here is one key excerpt:

16. Government remains firmly committed to the reorientation of public expenditures in favor of growth and poverty-related outlays. In line with this approach, government employment for critical social and economic sectors (including teachers, healthcare, and security personnel) will rise moderately but overall civil service positions would fall by about 2,000 through retrenchments and attrition. Several developments are expected to raise the inflexibility of the budget and thus limit the scope for a more aggressive reallocation of spending to priority areas. These include the projected rise in interest payments; the continuing sharp increase in pension payments that is partly attributable to the recent retrenchment of public servants; and the impact of persistent wage pressures on the wage bill; and the lower-than-expected external budget support. To stay on course with the expenditure restructuring program and move toward fiscal sustainability, the government has initiated several actions that should, over time, result in a significant reduction in noncore outlays. These include developing new wage-setting mechanisms for public employees, rationalizing diplomatic missions with a view to reducing the number of staff, and privatizing parastatals. In addition, the role of the state in the provision and funding of university education is under review. The budget includes a Ksh 2 billion provision for the payment of pending bills in 2004/05 following the completion of a legal audit in December 2004. However, if creditors contest the outcome of the audit, the process could take longer. The remaining bills will be paid off over a two-year period. The budget also includes a provision of Ksh 1 billion for the rehabilitation of stalled projects. Government's objective is to sell most of these projects and to rehabilitate the remaining ones in priority areas in the context of the regular development budget operations. As a result of the ongoing audit of all central government contracts of commercial external debt, some external payments arrears are accumulating. In managing the fiscal program, all the debt-service on these obligations will be paid on the due dates into an escrow account to facilitate prompt payment once the underlying obligations are found to be legitimate.

And here is another:

18. Public service reforms have been stepped up. This will help to re-establish control over the wage bill, address capacity constraints in key ministries, and promote the creation of a more efficient public service. To this end, the government has introduced new wage-setting guidelines for public employees, consistent with reducing, over the medium term, the wage bill as a proportion of revenue over the medium term. The terms and conditions of service for top management in the government and state bodies will also be streamlined. Finally, new regulations emphasizing merit as a key determinant for promotion have been established. Capacity building is being emphasized at all levels of government, particularly in ministries essential to the realization of the ERS. In this connection, several steps have been taken to strengthen capacity and streamline the Ministry of Finance, including consolidation of the planning and budget functions within the Ministry, the setting up of a robust debt management unit, and enhancing capacity and mechanisms for managing and monitoring macroeconomic and structural reforms. With the assistance of private consultants, the Ministries of Education, Health, and Agriculture are also being restructured.

Now let us play a game and see if you can see through the IMF codewords to discern their cost-cutting assault against the public sector in Kenya just from reading this press briefing from last September.

So, how far did you go?

Perhaps this other address by another IMF big wig in Nairobi will produce more fruit.

Here is a key excerpt:

I mentioned the need for market-friendly policies. By that I mean policies, and the accompanying institutional framework, that enable countries to exploit the economic benefits that markets can bring. In most cases markets provide much better signals for the efficient allocation of resources. Freedom from government interference can enable market incentives to operate more effectively, to the benefit of all, in a competitive environment.

In many cases, governments have yet to define clearly those activities they see as appropriate for them, and those they accept they should relinquish to the market. The provision of basic education, for example, is widely accepted as a public good that governments are best able to provide, or at least underwrite. Government clearly has a role in the provision of basic infrastructure, such as roads. Both of these activities are important in fostering growth and entrepreneurial activity.

So too is the institutional and legal framework that needs to be in place in a successful market economy. Property rights have a crucial role to play in attracting investors. Bankruptcy laws, commercial codes and independent, effective courts all help provide the right signals for the entrepreneurs who can help develop a thriving private sector creating jobs and raising living standards.

And in many areas of economic activity it makes sense for the state to relinquish control in favor of the market. State owned enterprises don't have an enviable track record—and that applies equally in industrial as well as developing countries. One glance at the problems some European countries still have with inefficient, subsidy-hungry state companies is enough to confirm that.

State protection of monopolies—whether they be publicly or privately owned-benefits the few at the expense of the many. This is true whether we are talking about protection from foreign imports or from greater domestic competition.

The same applies to government support for industry more generally. Trade-distorting interference in the market, however well-intentioned, always involves benefiting a minority at the expense of the majority. This is as much the case in developing economies as it is in industrial countries. And when private enterprise believes it can benefit from government favors, businessmen spend their time seeking those favors at the expense of activities that would make them more competitive—and would thus contribute more to growth.

It is understandable that governments want to nurture new enterprise. But financial support, or other forms of market-distorting protection, is not the best way to do that. Such help is addictive for the industries concerned. When did we last hear of a company going to a government—any government—and asking for support to be reduced?

Even in rich countries, the efficient allocation of resources is important. In developing countries, it is crucial that governments, facing so many more demands for scarce resources, ensure they are allocated wisely. Providing basic infrastructure, introducing more competition, and providing a level playing field for all economic actors, will raise productivity and economic welfare far more than any amount of state subsidies for industry.

In many poor countries, I know it has been customary to see the government as the employer of last resort. But countries that have started to cut the bureaucracy or let market incentives work have seen significant rewards, with more rapid growth of private sector employment when labor markets are liberalized...

Let us re-highlight that last paragraph:

In many poor countries, I know it has been customary to see the government as the employer of last resort. But countries that have started to cut the bureaucracy or let market incentives work have seen significant rewards, with more rapid growth of private sector employment when labor markets are liberalized...

One can argue that the Kenya government(and you saw it took five senior officials- Ntimama, Kulundu, Muthaura, Mwiraria and Mutua make the announcement of the Kibaki regime's hard line stance against the striking public sector workers) was living up to the demands of the IMF in order to get the much needed booster, the much hankered for financial shot in the arm from the donors and therefore the civil servants strike acted as a godsend for a duplicitious regime that has no qualms about taking to the slaughter thousands of its own voters to suit the dictates of the IMF and the World Bank.

It is also quite revealing sifting through the justifications and rationalizations offered by well known Kibaki propagandists and apologists online.

Here for instance is what "Kamale" a rabid supporter of the NAK faction based in Nairobi had to say earlier today over at the Mashada forum:
It is very easy to take a socialist view to anything happening in the country and hope to explain it away! With regard to the civil service strike, I think the legality of it all has been sufficiently explained by the lawyers. The white haired idiot called Nyakundi has very knowingly sent misinformed civil servants to the slaughterhouse. Personally I would have been in full support of the civil servants had the followed the laid down procedures, by law, on how to take industrial action against an employer. It actually is very tempting to beleive a story doing the rounds that Nyakundi may have been party to a plot to save the government some 2 billion shillings in retrenchment costs by leading the workers to the strike. For any sensible trade unionist not to know that an employer is retrenching, then lead his members into an illegal strike, it actually calls for criminal action against such a unionist! That the government has always wanted to rid itself of non-professional workers has been a well know fact is something no one should ignore. In the process, the government just got rid of 9000 workers it perhaps does not have to pay retrenchement costs!! With regard to strikes for higher pay, perhaps my capitalist leanings would bear me out when I say that such struggles are wrong. If today I am unhappy with what my present employer is paying me, then I withhold my services by resigning my position and offering the same services to someone willing to compensate me adequately. I cannot agree that striking is the best form of forcing an employer to pay more especially if the pay given is within a legal minimum! Anyone interested in participating in illegal strikes, should look at the ill-fated bankers' strike. A lot of people were impoverished by their foolish acts of competing with an employer who has not broken the law! The 9000 sacked civil servants should serve as an example to what happens when you break the law. In the meantime, Nyakundi will still be in employment when the strike fizzles out, many people are sacked, and bitterness has set in! Okay, enough on that strike!


The gloating triumphalism of the NAK flagwaving petty-bourgeois cheerleaders punctuates Kamale's myopic and slightly unhinged crowing above. It is also echoed in the buoyancy of the Nairobi Stock Exchange whose fat cat wheelers and dealers are obviously pleased with Messrs Mwiraria and Co.

It is significant that three days into the strike, NAK's rivals in the political mainstream, KANU and the LDP seem to have other "priorities" that preclude them from commenting either way on the civil servants strike.

It is apparent therefore, that there is NO Kenyan political party on the mainstream that can claim to speak for the Kenyan workers when they are SILENT at a time when the Kenyan government has committed one of the worst outrages abusing labour rights in our 42 years of so called "independence".

There is a simple reason for this:

All the mainstream political parties and their leaders ("radical" rhetoric notwithstanding) need the imprimatur and largesse of the Western donors and the two Bretton Woods institutions that these imperialist states control. None of the leaders of these Kenyan parties can visualize a path to power that circumvents slavish kowtowing to the same imperialists who have been dominating our country since the 1880s.

The real lessons of the civil servants strike are POLITICAL. Many of us have been arguing for the last few months that the working people of Kenya need their own political party. The editorial board of the the Mapambano Newsletter has been saying the same things in the left wing paper that has been circulating in the major Kenyan urban areas for the last few months( See, "Road Map to a Fighting Workers Party in Kenya in Mapambano #5 (May 2005).

In the meantime, there are a number of IMMEDIATE things that Kenyan workers and their democratic allies within and outside Kenya can do.

Here are some suggestions:

1. An international campaign to push the Kenyan government to ratify C87 Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948. This important labour rights convention states as follows:


Article 1

Each Member of the International Labour Organisation for which this Convention is in force undertakes to give effect to the following provisions.

Article 2

Workers and employers, without distinction whatsoever, shall have the right to establish and, subject only to the rules of the organisation concerned, to join organisations of their own choosing without previous authorisation.

Article 3

1. Workers' and employers' organisations shall have the right to draw up their constitutions and rules, to elect their representatives in full freedom, to organise their administration and activities and to formulate their programmes.

2. The public authorities shall refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof.

Article 4

Workers' and employers' organisations shall not be liable to be dissolved or suspended by administrative authority.

Article 5

Workers' and employers' organisations shall have the right to establish and join federations and confederations and any such organisation, federation or confederation shall have the right to affiliate with international organisations of workers and employers.

Article 6

The provisions of Articles 2, 3 and 4 hereof apply to federations and confederations of workers' and employers' organisations.

Article 7

The acquisition of legal personality by workers' and employers' organisations, federations and confederations shall not be made subject to conditions of such a character as to restrict the application of the provisions of Articles 2, 3 and 4 hereof.

Article 8

1. In exercising the rights provided for in this Convention workers and employers and their respective organisations, like other persons or organised collectivities, shall respect the law of the land.

2. The law of the land shall not be such as to impair, nor shall it be so applied as to impair, the guarantees provided for in this Convention.

Article 9

1. The extent to which the guarantees provided for in this Convention shall apply to the armed forces and the police shall be determined by national laws or regulations.

2. In accordance with the principle set forth in paragraph 8 of Article 19 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation the ratification of this Convention by any Member shall not be deemed to affect any existing law, award, custom or agreement in virtue of which members of the armed forces or the police enjoy any right guaranteed by this Convention.

Article 10

In this Convention the term organisation means any organisation of workers or of employers for furthering and defending the interests of workers or of employers.


Article 11

Each Member of the International Labour Organisation for which this Convention is in force undertakes to take all necessary and appropriate measures to ensure that workers and employers may exercise freely the right to organise.


Article 12

1.In respect of the territories referred to in Article 35 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation as amended by the Constitution of the International Labour Organisation Instrument of Amendment 1946, other than the territories referred to in paragraphs 4 and 5 of the said article as so amended, each Member of the Organisation which ratifies this Convention shall communicate to the Director-General of the International Labour Office with or as soon as possible after its ratification a declaration stating:

a) the territories in respect of which it undertakes that the provisions of the Convention shall be applied without modification;

b) the territories in respect of which it undertakes that the provisions of the Convention shall be applied subject to modifications, together with details of the said modifications;

c) the territories in respect of which the Convention is inapplicable and in such cases the grounds on which it is inapplicable;

d) the territories in respect of which it reserves its decision.

2. The undertakings referred to in subparagraphs (a) and (b) of paragraph 1 of this Article shall be deemed to be an integral part of the ratification and shall have the force of ratification.

3. Any Member may at any time by a subsequent declaration cancel in whole or in part any reservations made in its original declaration in virtue of subparagraphs (b), (c) or (d) of paragraph 1 of this Article.

4. Any Member may, at any time at which the Convention is subject to denunciation in accordance with the provisions of Article 16, communicate to the Director-General a declaration modifying in any other respect the terms of any former declaration and stating the present position in respect of such territories as it may specify.

Article 13

1. Where the subject-matter of this Convention is within the self-governing powers of any non-metropolitan territory, the Member responsible for the international relations of that territory may, in agreement with the government of the territory, communicate to the Director-General of the International Labour Office a declaration accepting on behalf of the territory the obligations of this Convention.

2. A declaration accepting the obligations of this Convention may be communicated to the Director-General of the International Labour Office:

a) by two or more Members of the Organisation in respect of any territory which is under their joint authority; or

b) by any international authority responsible for the administration of any territory, in virtue of the Charter of the United Nations or otherwise, in respect of any such territory.

3. Declarations communicated to the Director-General of the International Labour Office in accordance with the preceding paragraphs of this Article shall indicate whether the provisions of the Convention will be applied in the territory concerned without modification or subject to modifications; when the declaration indicates that the provisions of the Convention will be applied subject to modifications it shall give details of the said modifications.

4. The Member, Members or international authority concerned may at any time by a subsequent declaration renounce in whole or in part the right to have recourse to any modification indicated in any former declaration.

5. The Member, Members or international authority concerned may, at any time at which this Convention is subject to denunciation in accordance with the provisions of Article 16, communicate to the Director-General a declaration modifying in any other respect the terms of any former declaration and stating the present position in respect of the application of the Convention.


Article 14

The formal ratifications of this Convention shall be communicated to the Director-General of the International Labour Office for registration.

Article 15

1. This Convention shall be binding only upon those Members of the International Labour Organisation whose ratifications have been registered with the Director-General.

2. It shall come into force twelve months after the date on which the ratifications of two Members have been registered with the Director-General.

3. Thereafter, this Convention shall come into force for any Member twelve months after the date on which its ratifications has been registered.

Article 16

1. A Member which has ratified this Convention may denounce it after the expiration of ten years from the date on which the Convention first comes into force, by an act communicated to the Director-General of the International Labour Office for registration. Such denunciation shall not take effect until one year after the date on which it is registered.

2. Each Member which has ratified this Convention and which does not, within the year following the expiration of the period of ten years mentioned in the preceding paragraph, exercise the right of denunciation provided for in this Article, will be bound for another period of ten years and, thereafter, may denounce this Convention at the expiration of each period of ten years under the terms provided for in this Article.

Article 17

1. The Director-General of the International Labour Office shall notify all Members of the International Labour Organisation of the registration of all ratifications, declarations and denunciations communicated to him by the Members of the Organisation.

2. When notifying the Members of the Organisation of the registration of the second ratification communicated to him, the Director-General shall draw the attention of the Members of the Organisation to the date upon which the Convention will come into force.

Article 18

The Director-General of the International Labour Office shall communicate to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for registration in accordance with Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations full particulars of all ratifications, declarations and acts of denunciation registered by him in accordance with the provisions of the preceding articles.

Article 19

At such times as it may consider necessary the Governing Body of the International Labour Office shall present to the General Conference a report on the working of this Convention and shall examine the desirability of placing on the agenda of the Conference the question of its revision in whole or in part.

Article 20

1. Should the Conference adopt a new Convention revising this Convention in whole or in part, then, unless the new Convention otherwise provides:

a) the ratification by a Member of the new revising Convention shall ipso jure involve the immediate denunciation of this Convention, notwithstanding the provisions of Article 16 above, if and when the new revising Convention shall have come into force;

b) as from the date when the new revising Convention comes into force this Convention shall cease to be open to ratification by the Members.

2. This Convention shall in any case remain in force in its actual form and content for those Members which have ratified it but have not ratified the revising Convention...

(b) Start a letter writing campaign to trade unions, left wing political parties, social justice and human rights groups around the world denouncing the attack on workers rights in Kenya;

(c) Liaising with democratic minded human rights lawyers who may be contemplating any legal challenges to the Ntimama/Kulundu pro-IMF terror tactics against the Kenyan working class;

(d) Providing solidarity support to the striking and sacked workers and their families;

(e) Writing to each of the 222 individuals who dare to call themselves wananchi's representatives in parliament and find out concretely where they stand on the plight and rights of workers. Those MPs like Ntimama, Kulundu, Murungi, Balala, Ayacko, Kituyi, Ngilu and others who have gone on the record for castigating worker's rights should be on a Rogue's List of MPs targeted for elimination at the next polls.

(f) Putting in place the building blocks of a United Democratic Mseto that some of us have been talking about for the last few months.

There are other suggestions but they will be conveyed to the relevant people OFFLINE.

Onyango Oloo


Mzalendo said...

Need I point out the obvious here that this guy is merely regurgitating useless communist propaganda. He accuses the Kenya government of bending to the dictates of Foreigners namely the IMF in firing striking workers. He ignores the fact that the workers were engaged in an illegal strike. That they neglected thier duties causing the deaths of close to 100 poor kenyans. He has no sympathy for the suffering of poor Kenyans occasioned by this illegal strike. The striking workers destroyed government(peoples)property and sabotaged drinking water suppllies putting millions of Kenyans at risk.They assaulted fellow workers whose only sin was to continue serving the public. Yet in his red fervor all he sees wrong is the government action to terminates its employees who were engaged in criminal actions. He supports a 600% pay increase for civil servants whose wages alread6y take up 40% of the budget. Perharps he skipped math ematics in school. Apparently the people of Kenya should spend all thier wealth and even borrow more money to pay these civil servants. He wants the mwananchi to be working for the civil servant instead of the other way around. He complains that the IMF wants Kenya to cut its government workforce and that Kibaki is slavishly following its dictates. Yet unlike a true intellectual he does not discuss whether or not the workforce needs trimming. As kenyans no one needs to tell you that the civil service is bloated. It is populated by ghost workers, deadwood ,lazy, corrupt and cynical workers. They are like parasites, leaching off the countries life blood. The civil service needs to be trimmed of this deadweight so that the few dilligent and hardworking public servants can have room to operate. The civil service needs to be injected with the new blood of eager Job seekers ready to serve the country. Finally Narc and Kibaki should forge ahead in serving the Nation. Forget the do nothing latte radicals sitting in foreign capitals. All they do is mooch off their forign benefactors and condemn Kenya upon command. Notice that after complaining bitterly abount Kibaki following the dictates of foreigners the guys solution is for other foreigners his communist labour buddies to tell Kenya what to do. He regurgitates thier propaganda undigested in his post.

Kenya Democracy Project said...

Thanks "Mzalendo":

First of all, how many online personas do you have and why can't you to stick to one?

Secondly, do you know how TIRED are these pre-adolescent red baiting heckling with which you pepper your outburst?

Thirdly, can you focus on the issues raised with a certain degree of seriousness that will ID you as a MATURE adult with whom one can grapple with?

Onyango Oloo