Thursday, September 17, 2009

It is not "the Media"..It is not "Politics"..It is not "Disrespect"... is a populace that is fed up of being treated as though we are less than, as though our thoughts, opinions and feelings do not matter or do not count. It is your bad management, flawed PR and poor strategy.

Everytime the president does something that causes friction (such as the Ringera reappointment or the Kivuitu reappointment), government supporters come out with the same arguments:

- The Media is to blame for the government being unpopular
- Its ODM and their politics that cause the government to be so unpopular
- Questioning the president is disrespectful/Kibz bashing is in Fashion

I tend to disagree with all three viewpoints.

The Media/Public Relations/Strategy
Yes indeed, as has been mentioned countless times in countless forums, the media is always seeking negativity to report on. Afterall, that's what sells. The trick therefore is TO MANAGE MEDIA RELATIONS not to sit whining and crying about biased media. It is not about returning to a dictatorship, it is about playing smart. This is one area in which the Kibaki administration has completely failed.

Any successful organization needs a smart PR strategy. Since 2003, I have watched as the Kibaki administration has stumbled from PR gaffe to PR gaffe, from crisis to crisis and from mistake to mistake. This cannot be blamed on media. This is a management failure.

Yes ODM play politics, dirty politics even. But, this is the nature of the sport that is politics. If you are in power and I want to get to where you are, I will try to discredit every single thing I can about everything you do.

Once again, a good, smart PR strategy takes care of this problem. The trick here is NOT TO GIVE YOUR OPPONENT ANY AMMUNITION TO USE AGAINST YOU. Nobody in their right minds can say Kibz & Co. have done this. Infact Kibz and Co have often seemed like ODM moles due to all the silly gaffes they keep making.

Sometimes this argument will also take the form of: "Well it's his ministers who do that and he's a hands off manager". Garbage. Even the most hands off manager is ultimately responsible for results. Public perception is a result. To ignore that aspect of the job would be grossly negligent. Same way people will say "Kibz cannot be responsible for individual's performance, he hires people and lets them get on with their jobs". Are you kidding me? Who is responsible for delivery if not the manager? Ultimately, the buck has to stop with the man at the top, it is he who appoints and therefore it is he who must demand performance.

Questioning the President is Disrespectful/Kibz bashing is in Fashion
Only sycophants would say that questioning the president is disrespectful. Who pays the president? He works for the Kenyan people, therefore we can question him about any issue that relates to the running of the country we hired him to steer ON OUR BEHALF.

Kibz bashing might be in fashion..but this is because of the flawed & ineffective PR strategy that Kibz has in place. Over the years, the government (starting right from the very top) has given the impression that it is not bothered about the views and opinions of Kenyans, that it is not bothered with being popular. Well in democracy, popularity is the currency of power. This is where strategy comes in. Kibz may be content being unpopular, inaccessible and arrogant towards Kenyans but at the end of the day, that will have repercussions. The repercussions of 2003-2007 were simple. A disputed election, meaning a coalition government..therefore meaning that exercise of powers is not as straightforward as Kibz might like it to be.

It is easy to blame politics, the media etc, but I would suggest that Kibs needs to look much closer to home to figure out exactly why he has many of the problems he faces today.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ringera..KACC Credibility at Stake

OK, so Kibaki went ahead and reappointed Ringera for a further 5 years, seemingly with no reference to anybody..not even the KACC Advisory Committee.

Now by all accounts, he is technically within his rights as president to do so. As I understand the current law, the KACC Advisory Board and parliament are only required to vet NEW appointments. It is not mandatory for there to be a vetting process for contract renewals.

Firstly; I find that a fairly sloppy piece of legislation. I'm no lawyer, but I equate writing laws to agreeing contracts. I have come to learn over the years that even though you may be on the best of terms with the other party, when you are drafting a contract ALWAYS take every possibility into consideration. NEVER rely on the goodwill of the other party. You never know what may happen in future. By drafting and passing a law that necessitates consultations for appointments but not for reappointments, parliament dropped the ball big time.

Secondly; and I believe far more importantly, the KACC is an organisation that needs to be seen to be credible. It is an organisation that needs to be seen to have procedures that are totally above board. It is in this respect that I feel the president has erred (as he did with the Electoral Commission appointments pre-election). By reappointing Ringera in the manner he has done, the president has eroded any credibility that KACC (and by extension the GoK fight against corruption) may have earned/regained from a more consultative appointment process. Kenyans had pretty much lost all hope in the KACC delivering under Ringera. By reappointing Ringera "because I can", the president has now made himself out to be somebody who condones corruption and is not in the least bit sincere about his oft stated "zero tolerance to corruption" policy.

As he did with the ECK, the president has effectively stripped yet another institution of any hope, faith, trust or confidence that the Kenyan public may have had in it.

As we saw with the post election violence, institutions that lack credibility can be a ticking time bomb and can easily be used by mischievous and devious individuals to cause chaos.

Kibaki has once again shown us that he does indeed wield all the power, but I fear he has chosen short term gain over long term benefit.