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

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

US ‘brokered’ agreements on Israel: Wind of change or toxic blast of extortion?

The United States is negotiating with African countries that will see them exchange Palestinian people’s rights for improved economic and trade conditions

Disaster as climate crisis, tectonic shift swell Rift Valley lakes

The current tectonic cycle squeezes out water from the Earth’s aquifers; the previous cycle caused water to drain out of thelakes into the Earth’s aquifers

Subscribers only

Toxic power struggle hits public works

With infighting and allegations of corruption and poor planning, the department’s top management looks like a scene from ‘Survivor’

Free State branches gun for Ace

Parts of the provincial ANC will target their former premier, Magashule, and the Free State PEC in a rolling mass action campaign

More top stories

Baby Awa: The miracle baby born on a boat fleeing...

More than 300 000 people in the north of the country have been displaced by militants who ransack villages and then burn them down.

Five suspects arrested in Senzo Meyiwa case

Police minister Bheki Cela announced on Monday that his team has arrested five suspects who were allegedly involved in the killing of former Bafana Bafana captain Senzo Meyiwa.

EFF eyes municipalities ahead of 2021 local government elections

EFF leader Julius Malema says the party is preparing to govern in many municipalities from next year. It is also launching a programme to defend the rights of farm workers

WSU suspends classes and exams to avoid the spread of...

The university says it has to take the precautionary measures because 26 students have tested positive on its East London campus

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday