Last warning: prepare for the worst like you never imagined in your worst nightmares
Every leader is faced with those terrible, terrible decisions. The more powerful your leadership position the more terrible the decisions you will have to make. I am talking about the kind of decisions where you toss a coin and if it is heads people die and if it is tails more people die. If you choose not to toss the coin then it is even worse because you postpone catastrophe.
Faced with this kind of terrible decision early in his administration, our dear president true to form chose the third option as he has done many times before. The result is that even if you don’t know it yet (just like many Kenyans) we are on the brink of unprecedented economic troubles.
You will remember that shortly after being sworn in on that most memorable day in December 2002 President Mwai Kibaki made his first speech where he emphasized that the new government would have zero tolerance to corruption. Looking back today those words ring hallow and empty because there are those who say that corruption has increased rather than decreased under Mwai Kibaki’s administration.
In retrospect it is now clear as day that the president had very good intentions at heart but one of his major shortfalls was his managerial weakness of failing to make critical decisions with the speed they deserve.
Try and empathize with his position as you read the following scenario. Those hundreds of wannabes who regularly get off imagining themselves in State house as president of the republic of Kenya please pay special attention and make a decision to withdraw your candidature. Quit dreaming only of the gardens of State house without taking into consideration the extremely tough decision-making side of high office.
Imagine the following scenario for a minute. That you are the president of Kenya and you are having a meeting with your advisors one morning. You have come to the meeting with some enthusiastic proposals to round up all the drug kingpins whom you know very well (everybody in the political class has known them for years) and you also want to shut down Eastleigh because you know that most of the cash from piracy off the Somali coast and beyond ends up there.
But your advisors tell you things that cause you to apply emergency brakes to your enthusiasm. If you move against drug lords in the country you will be sure to cut your own “political feet” because these are the people who oil politics in Kenya and you Mr President are no exception. Secondly the repercussions to the economy will be colossal. Cash from the evil trade props up the Kenyan shilling and indeed the entire Kenyan economy. If the hard drugs traffic is interfered with, you promptly interfere with the Kenyan economy and those who will be worst hit will be the common wananchi.
And before you recover another of your advisors gets up with statistics showing you the disaster that will befall the nation’s economy if you dare move against Eastliegh and the cash flowing there from piracy in the high seas.
If you are a good manager who makes decisions quickly chances are that you will opt to do nothing. If you are Barrack Obama you will think outside the box and create a third option that nobody ever thought of before. Chances are that it will be quite controversial but at least it will buy you political time and at least it will be a decision. But if you are Mwai Kibaki you will do the most dangerous thing of all. You will make no decision.
That is exactly what happened in 2003 and tragically that indecision has caught up with us after a chain of events has quickly brought us to the current circumstances. I want to keep this post as short as possible so the chain of events that have led us to today will be the subject of a future post.
The current situation is that the Americans are on the war path against the drug trade and are determined to shut down one of the busiest transit cities in the world, namely Nairobi. How do you kill a snake? According to the government policy in Kenya currently you start by hitting the tail of the snake as hard as you can and you follow this up by concentrating all your efforts on the tail of the snake (KACA tactics). But the decisive Americans have a different approach they go straight for the head and if the snake had a jugular that is exactly where they would hit with pinpoint precision. And that is why the two names of Kenyans were released by the Obama administration. The effect has been phenomenal. For all intents and purposes the drug trafficking business in Kenya and the region will never be the same again.
But what many people are yet to do is link this recent happening to the catastrophe that is unfolding on the economic front. It started with the shilling going on a free-fall. As I write this it has sunk to it’s lowest point in history at one point exchanging at Kshs 91 to the green buck.
After weeks of shocked confusion, the Central bank finally decided to react. What they did was predictable; yesterday they raised the benchmark CBR (Central Bank rates from 6.25 per cent to 8 per cent. What this means is that the rates across the board will increase… dramatically.
Historically this has been the only avenue Kenya has followed to tame inflation. This time it is clearly the wrong approach at the wrong time. Most experts agree that what the drastic increase of rates will do will be to choke the economy and dramatically slow down what little speed is still there going forward. If businesses find it increasingly hard to borrow they will lay off people for sure and those already using borrowed money whose cost has suddenly shot up will pass on the cost to the consumer for sure, raising prices further. But the really tragic thing here is that all this would not have happened at a worse time when famine is spreading across Kenya and prices of the staple maize crop has reached where it has never treaded before in the history of the nation.
Moral of this post: Had we made the decision to do the house cleaning way back in 2003, we would not be in the deep hole we find ourselves in today. Do not imagine for a minute that I am saying I would have done better than Mwai Kibaki did. Hell NO. What I am saying is that the executive job is one that comes with numerous terrible decisions that make you lose hair and age quicker than anything else can age you in this world. Those who are eager to be president really, really need to chew on that… and withdraw their silly pipe-dream ambitions. If you have been MP for 20 years and your constituents still have serious water problems, sir with all due respect this office is NOT for you. Go sort out the water problems first.
Understanding Kamlesh Patni’s Goldenberg Scandal