Is Kenya heading for a meltdown?

Barely two years after an election that left 1 500 people dead, Kenya is still on a dangerous road, say some analysts.

Last week a corruption scandal threatened to bring down the country’s unity government, after President Mwai Kibaki overturned a decision by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to suspend two ministers suspected of corruption. It took until Tuesday for the two leaders to finally meet.

However, even if the two men are intent on ironing out their differences, Kenya still faces enormous problems.

The country is young and educated, but youth unemployment constitutes 78% of total unemployment. If you want a job, say many school leavers, “you have to bribe someone first”. The problem is so bad that there is a significant risk the country will become a failed state, warned Transparency International’s Kenya chief in a recent interview.

“There are no investors willing to invest in the economy because it is structured on corruption,” said Job Ogonda, citing Liberia and Sierra Leone as examples of where this has happened before.


“Getting jobs is based on corruption and because of that people feel alienated.”

According to Ogonda, young people are increasingly turning to violence as the only means to further themselves, adding that the country is likely to face a meltdown in 2012. He points towards the controversial Mungiki sect, which has a stranglehold on the transport sector, and other groups who extort money to finance themselves.

“There isn’t a middle-class neighbourhood in the country where people aren’t forced to pay for security. You pay for it when you move into your house, then you pay a monthly fee and when you’re moving out you pay again. Otherwise, they won’t allow you to.”

Corruption is an ongoing problem in Kenya, which was once regarded as a beacon of stability for all of East Africa. For example, according to one NGO, the government has failed to build a proper water supply infrastructure in the country because government-connected companies make money selling water to people in drought-hit areas or poorly served slums.

Subscribe to the M&G

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years, and we’ve survived right from day one thanks to the support of readers who value fiercely independent journalism that is beholden to no-one. To help us continue for another 35 future years with the same proud values, please consider taking out a subscription.

Jody Clarke
Jody Clarke works from Dublin. Media and Public Affairs for the UN Refugee Agency/ Ard-Choimisinéir do Theifigh @refugees.Tweets about #refugees #asylum #humanrights. Sometimes #swimming. Jody Clarke has over 1175 followers on Twitter.

Related stories

Is a wealth tax the answer?

More wealth taxes may soon be a reality for east African countries in the wake of Covid-19

Malawi court judges win global prize

Members of the small African country’s judiciary took a stand for democracy to international approval

Trouble brewing for Kenya’s coffee growers

Kenyan farmers say theft of their crop is endemic – and they suspect collusion

Women are entitled to own land

Too many laws and customs in too many African countries still treat women as minors

The challenges of delivering a Covid-19 vaccine in Africa requires a new approach

It is imperative that we train healthcare workers and participate in continent-wide collaboration

Why we must fight to secure places for more women and young people in politics

Too often, governments talk the talk on gender equality, but fail to walk the walk
Advertising

Subscribers only

Q&A Sessions: Frank Chikane on the rainbow where colours never...

Reverend Frank Chikane has just completed six years as the chairperson of the Kagiso Trust. He speaks about corruption, his children’s views and how churches can be mobilised

ANC: ‘We’re operating under conditions of anarchy’

In its latest policy documents, the ANC is self-critical and wants ‘consequence management’, yet it’s letting its members off the hook again

More top stories

Shabnim Ismail bowls her way into the record books Down...

The night before Australia’s Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) final, fiery South African fast bowler Shabnim Ismail lay awake pondering how...

Hawks make arrest in matric maths paper leak

Themba Daniel Shikwambana, who works at a printing company, was granted bail and is due to return to court in January

Andile Lungisa: Early parole for the house of truth

Disgraced Nelson Mandela Bay councillor Andile Lungisa calls for a change of leadership in the ANC immediately after being released on parole

War of words at Zondo commission: ‘Grow up Mr Gordhan,...

The cross-examination of the public enterprises minister by Tom Moyane’s lawyers at the state capture inquiry went on well into overtime on Monday evening
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…