Why and when do governments appoint economics professionals and economics-trained politicians?

Economists and politics….erm…pass!

Economic Sociology and Political Economy

Should policymakers – politicians and high-level state officials – be experts in their fields? Does professional competence effect public policies at all? And does it prove itself? These, undoubtedly, important issues to be discussed and researched. But in order to delve into them, first one needs to understand why and when some governments appoint people with professional economic background and headed by economists, while in orther cases the picture is different?
In “The Technical Competence of Economic Policy-Makers in Developed Democracies” Mark Hallerberg and Joachim Wehner tackled these questions. They analyzed educational and occupational background data for 1200 policy-makers (presidents/prime ministers, finance ministers, and central bankers) from EU and OECD democracies since 1973. The findings are not just interesting, they also could explain a lot about economic policymaking.

economics officials Comparison of the economic training of policymakers

So Hallerberg and Wehner found that:
– Eurozone leaders are unlikely to have an…

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Of Strategy and Strategists

If you spend half your time as a strategist, you strategise, then the strategy does not reach the target and you still have the strategy, and the target needs the strategy, and that strategy is really strategic, what do you do with the strategy?

Most strategists face the strategic dilemma of fear and jealousy. Sometimes as Joab Omino said, you need to lift up the bed, turn it Topsy-turvy to get underneath.

It is time.


Colonel Peter Makanda

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The Kenya Development Question: Northern Frontier District

March 17, 2015


In one of the books on development discourse on Kenya titled Underdevelopment in Kenya: the politics of neo colonialism, Collin Leys lays bare an analysis of the causes of underdevelopment and marginalisation in Kenya.

Although theories have sprung to counter Leys’ assertions and postings, it is worth noting that most colonial powers focused the development paradigms for “their” nation states on the dominant paradigms of modernisation. In this regard, economically “viable” and “productive” areas were given financial and resource attention at the expense of the others. The effect intended was for the areas of investment would in turn have a trickle down effect of development to the areas “ignored.” This led to the growth of two distinct “nations” in the new states. Whereas one was developing and enjoying “the fruits” of independence, the other languished in poverty , which was further exacerbated by corruption, coups and bad governance when the African elites took over from the colonial “masters.”

Granted, Kenya did not, in the strictest sense, experience the vagaries of coups per se, but all other ills that cropped up could be attributed to the false starts of our development planning. Mboya’s African Socialism continued the dominant paradigm, ignoring critical areas like the Northern Frontier District. This led to that famous insurgency by the Shifta, who were keen on shifting base to Somalia. Eventually, the Kenyatta regime managed to contain the rebellion.

However, half a century after independence, the Northern Frontier District, now the North Eastern region continues to languish in extreme poverty with a new challenge of extremism cropping up as a spillover from Somalia’s unending conflict. So shouldn’t we start thinking differently? What should we do?

Infrastructure seems the most plausible way out. Physical and educational infrastructure.

Take investors to the area. Give them concessions. Let them start building roads from the borders to Isiolo. Throw in electricity poles. Start from Garissa, Wajir and Mandera. Say 6 major roads and start linking them all the way till they meet somewhere near to or in Isiolo. Engineers will have the right names of the places and requisite points. But by all means, let these people have roads. And electricity. Who knows it might bring services close to the people and also spur interest on things that unite rather than divide. Whether that road is used to dry maize is immaterial. Roads are good, whenever, wherever.

Do not start from Nairobi going North. Start from the North coming these sides. Mr President, this is a major development programme. It does not even make sense. But surely, you want the North to once say, I am in Kenya. Unlike Chinua Achebe who died saying there was a country, it is time the North said: This is our country.

Col Peter Makanda

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JAP Kajiado Stillbirth and what this means for Uhuru 2018 Prospects

March 17, 2015

ODM’s Elijah Memusi Kanchory clinched the Kajiado Central parliamentary seat yesterday in a hotly contested by election that saw more than 80% of the electorate voting.

Memusi pipped perennial loser Patrick Tutui of the Jubilee Alliance Party (JAP) to ride to the August house after General Nkaissery of ODM was named Interior Minister. Tutui who had yesterday said he was prepared to accept defeat if he lost, said having lost before, he had no problem conceding. It can be argued that he did not know how the Memusi jab (sic) got to him!

But the major questions now are: What next for the president? Has the government lost traction in an area one would have expected a positive outcome given the enormous resources employed there? Does the loss indicate the resurgence of Mr Odinga in the run up to 2018?

The president will have to make tough choices here. Perhaps this JAP has what the Swahili call a jipu. Maybe TNA and URP need to remain as they are.

Nkaissery may not have held the sway the president anticipated. A closer understanding of the Matapato pre election pact was needed here. That was ignored.

Mr Memusi should have been appointed ambassador on the night of the JAP nomination. That was ignored.

Mr Nkaissery should not have appeared in any campaign meetings attended by Tutui, a man he fought all his political life. How was his presence expected to convince people so convinced of the incapabilities of Tutui that he was the man to watch? That was ignored.

The CORD brigade was the first litmus test of Mr Kalonzo’s political acumen given that Mr Odinga was largely away at critical times during the by election. In fact the President seems to have predicted the outcome of this contest as Billy Muiruri had opined in an article on the election. Bill had explained how the president’s absence was hurting the campaign. Bill was ignored. Largely.

What this means then is that Mr Kalonzo has emerged as a strong force nationally with the capacity to influence national politics at a scale unmatched by the government side. Kajiado proves this.

Pockets of rebellion against Mr Wetangula in Western, Mr Kalonzo in Eastern, and Mr Raila in South Nyanza and Coast have all disappeared. No Kalausi, no bright challenge from Coast, no chap chap problems for Kalonzo either.

Did the Narok debacle contribute to this? Time will not tell. yesterday’s outcome tells it all.

Can CORD mount a campaign for the 2018 general elections with the capacity to sway the national vote?

As the Arsenal fans, one of whom is Mr Odinga, say, It is Possible!

Col Peter Makanda

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DP Ruto Has Been in Dilemma Since 2007

Ruto has to make tough choices in the coming weeks as Peter Makanda points out


February 3, 2015

News of a possible rapprochement between Deputy President William Samoei Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has so galvanized the Kenyan political scene the last week or so that folks are in no hurry to worry about fake diplomas from some of our colleges of repute.

It was during a burial ceremony in Elgeyo Marakwet when Jubilee Alliance hawk and United Republican Party insider Senator Kipchumba Murkomen appeared to let the cat out of the bag – that there was need for Raila Odinga the leader of the Orange Democratic Party to testify for the defence in respect to the ongoing ICC case against the Deputy President and journalist Joshua Arap Sang’.

In an interview with a Kenyan daily, the Elgeyo Marakwet was as candid as they could get.
He said that as ODM chief, the former Prime Minister is in a better position to convince the trial judges and the entire world that the party had no ideology or scheme to trigger violence and to evict other ethnic communities from parts of Kenya as alleged by the office of the prosecutor.

“Raila is an international leader and a national leader. It has been said that he has sacrificed a lot for this country, he should also sacrifice for the Deputy President for the sake of national unity,” Murkomen told the daily.
Definitely this latest chorus from the Deputy President’s corner is bound to elicit jitters from the President’s position since the two are in a marriage of convenience that is the Jubilee Alliance, or the newly formed Jubilee Alliance Party, JAP.

From the other side of the divide, the head of the CORD Secretariat, Norman Magaya sees no problem with the request.

“Anybody who wants to make any request is at liberty,” Magaya said. “The PM would look at it and decide.”
Equally, the former Prime Minister has stated that ODM did not plan an y violence and that any request to testify is welcome.

“I am willing to testify on behalf of my party at the ICC. Ruto was a member of ODM and, if requested to go and testify for him, I will not hesitate,” Raila said.

It should be noted that the two leaders came together in the run up to the March 2013 General Elections after Ruto broke ranks with ODM and Raila Odinga. Raila was demonized as the devil that sent the duo to the International Criminal Court, never mind that the former Prime Minister and retired president Mwai Kibaki tried to convince legislators to vote for a local judicial mechanism to try post election violence perpetrators to no avail.

Raila Odinga’s rapprochement with William Ruto, who seems rather comfortable with an Odinga testimony at the ICC, reveals another dilemma in Ruto’s political life. Primarily, it will start the isolationist behavior of the real power brokers in Jubilee. He knows only too well how this pans out since he was a major player in ODM during the 2008-2013 coalition government.

The power brokers might not trust him fully if he starts working with Odinga who is viewed suspiciously by the people surrounding the presidency.

But be that as it may, Ruto is not new to tough decisions or dilemmas for that matter.

In 2007, he had to make a tough decision of whether to stick with erstwhile friend Uhuru Kenyatta (or Future President as he used to call him) and KANU or decamp to join ODM. He took the latter option.

Having joined ODM, his party lost the election to Kibaki’s Party of National Unity. In some quarters though, it is believed that this was the beginning of the bad blood between Raila and Ruto. Ruto believed, it is said, that ODM rightly won the election and had to stay adamant until PNU backed down.

The fact that Raila agreed to a power sharing formula could be seen as the straw that broke the camel’s back for Ruto. He therefore realized he had made the wrong decision to back a man who could not see something through, something as big as winning an election and forming government. In the negotiations that led to the formation of the Coalition Government, Ruto was viewed as a hardliner and his colleague in the party, Musalia Mudavadi, a moderate.

Soon the Eldoret North MP was to clash with Raila Odinga when Mudavadi was chosen as Deputy Prime Minister yet Ruto believed he, as the person who rallied the most votes to ODM deserved the post. Don’t even add the insult of Musalia being made Deputy Party Leader, even though later a second such post was created for him.

When the ICC released names of the indicted and Ruto’s name was featured, way after the Mau Forest saga had started, the relationship between Raila and Ruto had so gone south that it was only a matter of time before the two split up. Ruto had by then led his troop of supporters out of the Orange Democratic Party.
Having resigned from the cabinet, the Eldoret North MP had to make another tough decision. Stick to ODM or work with PNU that had fixed him at the ICC. He chose PNU.

Facing the 2013 elections Ruto had to make another decision. The choice of party as a vehicle to access political power for the Rift Valley. He went for his former party, the United Democratic Movement, UDM where Raila supporters denied him a chance. He therefore settled for the United Republican Party, hoping to make as much noise in the political scene as was profitably possible. Then he joined Uhuru in Jubilee.

However, before joining Jubilee, Ruto had a hurdle to jump over. He knew for a fact that if he joined Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, they would either win or win. If he joined Jubilee, they could win or lose. Let me explain. Ruto was sure that Odinga would most likely win in 2013.

In 2007 he joined Raila Odinga and they ‘won’ but they did not form government. Kibaki did. In 2013, there was a possibility that Raila would win the Presidency given the demographic support a Ruto- Odinga ticket would mean. A Ruto – Uhuru ticket was rather tricky given the ethnic arithmetic of a Kikuyu succeeding a Kikuyu at State House. So it was possible they could win, but also likely they could lose.

The key question was simple. Who between Raila Odinga and Uhuru Kenyatta, given the realities of 2007-8 was likely to form government if they won? Ruto thought Uhuru was the man. So he chose Uhuru. They won.
So, Ruto chose Jubilee for his political survival. What survival? One may ask.

The ICC case as we saw earlier was responsible for bringing President Kenyatta and William Ruto together. It should therefore not be misconstrued that Ruto and Raila have irreconcilable differences, and here we do not just throw in that statement about there being no permanent enemies in politics. Ruto himself said during the memorial mass for the late Fidel Castro, Raila Odinga’s first born that he had no problem with Raila.

In fact, close observers would have noticed the way the Deputy President presented the history of ODM, cleverly pointing out that Raila himself was absent at the initial meeting in Makadara. This could be seen as the cue Murkomen was waiting for.

The DP however, knows that allowing Raila Odinga back into his political life will jeopardize his stay in Jubilee. Suffice it to say that Ruto the politician has never been known to take the middle road in political alliances. It is either he is here, or he is there.

With this in mind, he will be forced to make another difficult decision.
Will he change his political strategy so that for the first time in his life he takes to walking two roads simultaneously or will he decide to abandon Jubilee and close ranks with CORD?

Information from popular Rift Valley blogs indicate that the people are at a crossroads about this issue. Some think that Karim Khan, the DP’s lawyer should first gauge the statement from Raila for its political and legal import before deciding whether it is worth the trouble.

Some wonder why after the true picture of who fixed Ruto having come out, why the ‘fixers’ have not been brought to account. Supporters of these supposed fixers could aver that this is the secret weapon needed to keep Jubilee in operation.

Naturally, the DP might have expected the two cases at the ICC to collapse at the same time. Though a farfetched dream, the Deputy President could not be wrong here for one simple reason. The man believes in the absolute power of the Office of the President. He believes that the holder of that office can move whichever mountain stands in his way. After all, he knows what a little power can achieve. All portfolios he has been given in the cabinet have seen him perform beyond expectations.

Leaving Jubilee however portends much difficulty for him. But if indeed the government cannot marshal enough resources to stop these cases, then the reason for being in Jubilee ceases to hold any water. The most plausible decision for him would most likely be to ditch the coalition, rejoin CORD/ODM as a supra partner, rebrand himself within this new/old framework and make a political stand against the political onslaught.

After all it will not be the first time he is facing such a dilemma. The man has been in dilemma since 2007.

Peter Makanda
(The writer is a communications practitioner based in Nairobi )

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The Rise of Junet Mohammed

Suna East MP is no mosquito in the current national political set up. The man has worked his way up the political radar from relative obscurity to mayor of Migori and now Member of Parliament.

He is at hand to tackle critical national issues on behalf of the Cord coalition when called upon. In fact, he has become the go to politician nowadays. You would think he is the Leader of Minority. The Somali community have a future in Mr Mohammed.

Perhaps CORD should give Jakoyo’s job to Francis Nyenze and then the Minority job goes to Junet. Quite a match for Aden Duale who should keep an eye out for Junet.

But then again these are just thoughts.

Col Peter Makanda

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Anne Waiguru will not be impeached. Not because she is not hated, but because the people who are supposed to impeach her are not her enemies. The supposed enemies, CORD, are the enemies of  Waiguru’s current enemies, so in effect the former will become her friends. URP stands to lose in this one since CORD will either vote in Waiguru’s favour or walk out if only to spite their URP counterparts. Never mind that this is a motion by a non URP member, Mithika Linturi.

Jubilee will survive the remaining four years but CORD will take advantage of minor feuds within the coalition to play one coalition partner against the other.

It is instructive to note that CORD might be thinking that with Waiguru in office, she is bound to keep annoying URP further hence the need to have her in the Cabinet. In fact, it is in the Opposition’s interest that such a strong-willed member of the executive with the capacity to antagonise governors is an asset to the Opposition’s plan to castigate government.

So if you were readying yourself with the champagne bottle just know you won’t be popping that soon.

The fat lady has not yet sung!


Col Peter Makanda

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Mohamed Morsy and the Arab Spring; or is it the Arab Jerk?

Mohamed Morsy and the Arab Spring; or is it the Arab Jerk?.

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Mohamed Morsy and the Arab Spring; or is it the Arab Jerk?

Now Morsy and the Muslim Brotherhood are out of office. Egypt is as unstable as it was during the Suez Crisis and the Yom Kippur days.

For all those who supported the ouster of stable leadership in the middle east, are you happy now? Do you feel or even think that Israel is safer now after the spring?

The greater good other rather than the common good is critical when it comes to international affairs. Those tasked with the responsibility of managing the affairs of the world must in the words of Daniel Moi, be like giraffes. Giraffes see far.

Stability must return to the middle east. Egypt must be stabilised. Everyone must compromise in Cairo since a stable Cairo means a secure world. The reverse is also true.

Engage the brotherhood in discussions to end the stalemate. Taking Morsy to jail will aggravate matters and inflame tensions. You could revisit the Morsy issue in later years – as we have revisited the Habre one.

Let reason and common political sense play and prevail here.

All powers must come to the table and face this monster jerk. Washington, Moscow, Beijing, Paris, Tel Aviv, Pretoria, and Ankara must clearly decide first who to rein in – is it Tantawi’s new boys or is it the elite in Cairo?

If the crisis is outsider motivated, the people of Egypt must resist all attempts at destabilising their country. Egyptians should remember that theirs is a country with great resources, economic, political, cultural and many more.

Stand up and be counted Cairo!

Col. Peter Makanda

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The bane of myopic thinking

If everyone who works for a dictator were to resign, the entire population of such countries would experience untold suffering. What happens is the collapse of institutions. But this should not in any way validate the existence of Assadist-type regimes.

That is perhaps why some gallant ones decide to reform the system from within. In the fullness of time the truth comes out. Better still, some are pushed out when it becomes clear that there is something amiss, or they are about to uncover some uncomfortable truths.

It is surprising when some Kenyans rant on the rooftops of mediocrity that Miguna Miguna should have resigned when he saw things amiss rather than cry wolf when the deal is done.

How myopic! As Kenyans, we deserve to know the exercise of power by our leaders, whether it is uncomfortable or not. We deserve to know who is misbehaving with the power we have given them. When we enjoy expensive breakfasts, dorn millionaire suits and belts, all when the nation is in grinding poverty with exorbitant interest rates, no sane Kenyan can say this is balderdash! Leaders exercise caution even when they indulge on their hard earned money. And this for the simple reason that leaders are public property.

When Mwai Kibaki, the President, was an invalid- leading from his hospital bed, was not Ngunyi always demanding, in his popular column, the need for State House to update us on “our leg”?

That The Daily Nation, one of Africa’s foremost dailies, decided to select and serialise, in its editorial wisdom spanning tens of years, excerpts of Miguna’s book, is testament enough of the legitimacy of this book and its contents.

It is a narrative, a lyrically prosaic piece of art,  that paints ODM and PNU in good and bad light. The narrative exposes the nationalistic and economic selves of Raila Odinga, the Prime Minister. It delves in equal measure into the mask that is President Kibaki’s self.

With hindsight, one of the things that I expect to read is the vitriol Miguna directed at the IIEC. It seems he was pushed into criticizing the Commission. If this is so, Miguna should apologise to Chairman Hassan.

However, those who are bent on giving the final judgment on this book based on excerpts are better advised, like I have advised myself, to wait for the book itself-in full- before coming to any conclusions.

In Chinua’s words I still ask, if alligator comes out of the water and tells you that crocodile is sick, do you doubt his story?

Colonel Makanda