Robert Mũnũku: My Letter to the President

Robert Mũnũku - My Letter to the President

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Robert Mũnũku: My Letter to the President

Dear Mr. President,

My name is Robert Mũnũku, an ordinary Kenyan who humbly writes this letter in candor hoping that you will read and act on it.  I write this to you – the incumbent President – and do so regardless of party affiliation and would do so to whoever occupied the office.  This is not a political letter but one regarding basic development that all Kenyans would benefit from.  Of the myriad of problems we are sorting collectively as a nation, I want to address one in this letter (not to say that the others are lesser or unimportant) that of our Foreign Policy.

More specifically, with regard to labour and related economics.  One would ask why I don’t write to the Cabinet Secretary of Foreign Affairs and the answer is really simple; this issue that I now raise is one that will require radical multi-sectoral reforms of which I believe requisite directive & oversight can only come from the person at the top – you.  I will be concise and breakdown the problem then go ahead to offer what I think are solutions inviting other Kenyans (many of whom are more qualified than I am) to chime in towards a solution.  Unlike many who often complain without offering alternatives, I hope this exercise will transition from theory to policy to change.

The Current Situation (or Premises if you will)

1 – Most Kenyans are individuals within the youth bracket (18 – 35yrs).  A good percentage of this same bracket are unemployed.
2 – Like most nations Kenya has multilateral and bilateral arrangements and agreements with various nations whom we collectively call ‘allies’.
3 – Kenya has debt from many countries mainly those in Europe and America.
4 – Many foreign owned companies and NGOs operating in Kenya have foreigners (expatriates) occupying senior positions (i.e. top management and above) with internal policies that prevent locals, regardless of qualification, from holding the same.
5 – Many expatriates in (4) above actually work illegally and often hold only tourist visas instead of the required work permits
6 – In (4) above a large percentage of the expatriates stay on way after their contracts have expired using clever methods to circumvent immigration laws i.e. they marry locals to acquire citizenship, buy land, play hide and seek with immigration (or bribe their way around), etc.
7 – Of the countries in (3) above United Kingdom (Britain) is the one that colonised Kenya.  To put it bluntly, they developed their economy by plundering the resources of the African countries they colonised.
8 – No country in the world can say it is completely self-sufficient (even the so-called developed countries), at least not indefinitely, hence International Relations and the need to interact productively with other nations.
9 – All countries that Kenya has relationships with either have an Embassy or High Commission in our country with corresponding High Commissioners and Ambassadors.
10 – Kenyans who are unemployed are dependant on those in the job market for sustenance which means the higher the unemployment rate the higher the dependency ratio and the more likely increase in insecurity.
11 – Mahathir Bin Mohamad (former Malaysian Prime Minister) managed to develop Malaysia (which was once at economic par with Kenya) without foreign aid
12 – Many if not most of the expatriates described in (5) above earn superfluous salaries which more often than not does not find its way back to the local economy.  Furthermore, such salaries suffer less tax than that of ordinary hard-working Kenyans (who earn way less).
13 – Most of the NGOs in (4) above offer no respite to what they claim to address i.e. poverty eradication, water & sanitation, ‘democracy’, etc. Instead such actually thrive on the same maladies because that’s the only way they keep getting funded.  For e.g. if poverty ended so would an NGO dealing in poverty eradication.

Robert Mũnũku’s Proposition:

Note: For this part I don’t expect the President himself to personally implement the recommendations, that would be ridiculous, only an incorrigible nincompoop would complain to the President as if he is responsible for doing every single thing directly.

There are necessary mechanisms in the ministries and counties to do so once strategies are created.

  • Make job creation a priority in your remaining 5 years.  This should not be conventional approach to employment. Call a meeting with all the 47 governors (solely about joblessness/unemployment) asking them for data on unemployed persons (i.e. number of youth out of school, form 4 leavers, graduates, etc.) and the main economic activities in their counties (not all counties are the same).  The governors then need to report back with strategies to absorb all the unemployed youth in their counties one way or the other in activities where they can earn an income.  If we get loans to do other things we can even get one to create jobs if need be.
  • Have a one on one meeting with the CS Foreign Affairs and talk about issues 4-7, 11-13 above
  • Have a meeting with the CS Finance to get a breakdown on how much Kenya gets in foreign aid and the corresponding projects this aid goes to.  Get data on the national debt.  Do scenarios on what it would mean in 5 years time for Kenya if current aid was halted (& alternatives). Do scenarios on what it would mean in 5 years time for Kenya if current debt was ignored (this to be done with CS Foreign Affairs to gauge impact on International Relations) and how we can generate the same revenue needed to drive the economy from the 47 counties.
  • Have CS Finance and his/her team come up with a concrete plan to run Kenya for the next 10+ years without aid
  • Form a competent team consisting of Sociologists, Economists, Forensic Auditors and whatever other profession is relevant, to work with the NGO Board (if need be) to re-audit all the major NGOs and Multinational Companies operating in Kenya.  This not need be all but those whose monies have a significant impact on the economy.  Interns and other administrative personnel would have prior prepared a roster of the same data.  The audit will be on: personnel profiles (esp. senior staff e.g. Directors), finance, operations, projects, and so on.
  • Get same data through same process as above from all the embassies & high commissions but before you do have the CS meet bilaterally with the respective ambassadors and high commissioners.  By the time she does so there will be already be a clear new policy in place regarding the working of foreigners in Kenya and debt which I’ll explain below.
  • As you meet CS Foreign affairs discuss the ramifications of refusing to pay debt especially to Britain given the reason I explained in 7 which is a no-brainer.  If anything Britain should pay us for their colonial injustices.
  • Discuss with the CS Foreign Affairs how best to beef up relationships with ‘developing countries’ both in Africa, Asia and South America.  Thereafter, (bearing in mind what you discuss with the CS Finance regarding a non-aid driven economy) have her draft on need-basis a strategic plan for engaging these countries.  She will then have bilateral meetings with the ambassadors and high commissioners of these countries to co-create further a model where Kenya can have symbiotic relationships with them in the anticipation that the countries we refuse to pay debt to rejoinder with sanctions.
  • Have all expatriates working illegally deported (described in 5 above) or face the law regarding the matter.
  • For multinational foreign corporations & NGOs have a policy legislated stating that: (a) all mid and top management personnel in these organisations should be Kenyan citizens (b) Foreign directors & organization heads can only serve one term and/or should be alternated with Kenyan citizens for the same position (c) Foreign companies and NGOs should pay more tax than local ones.  If they don’t like it they can pack up and take their NGOs and companies back to their countries.
  • Have bilaterals with all the high commissioners and ambassadors of the ‘developed/first world’ countries explaining your new resolutions.  Do not compromise.
  • During bilateral with ambassadors and high commissioners it should be made clear that any goodwill Kenya extends to foreigners must be reciprocated, i.e. visa fees should be lowered (if not waived) and commensurate with what foreigners pay to come, have exchange programmes that benefit both Kenyans and the citizens from these foreign countries, etc.
  • Have a meeting with technocrats (see 11 above for Mahathir analogy) if need be and get advise on how to run an economy without depending on foreign aid – get Kenya’s finest economists on board.
  • Create a law (via parliament lobbying) in which non-citizens can not buy land in Kenya.  How can foreigners own land in our country while millions of Kenyans live as squatters? Kenyan land is for Kenyan citizens!  They can however have leases where they are producing goods/services on that land actively contributing to the economy.  Pass similar motions regulating the ownership of property by foreigners.
  • Shut all NGOs/Foreign Companies falling in the description described in (13) and prosecute/deport those who have committed any felonies.
  • Beef up technological transfer and skills transfer i.e. if we commission foreigners (which we shouldn’t eventually) to build infrastructure at the very least a return from them should be technological transfer.
I can go on an on (i.e. nationalising key institutions like health and transport, creating a functional 24 hour economy, etc.). But this is a start, please do something about it.
Leave a legacy as you leave.
From a concerned Kenyan, an ordinary mwananchi:
Robert Mũnũku.
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First posted on Robert Mũnũku’s Blog
Here’s another letter that was written late in 2017, just before the nullified elections:

Mr President: What is the Taste of Oppression…

About the writer: Robert Mũnũku

Robert Munuku (b. 1984) is an award-winning independent visual artist, writer & filmmaker from Nairobi, Kenya. Munuku began visual art at an early age of 5 years old, encouraged & supported by his parents, Frank Munuku (father) & Assumpta Pierra Munuku (mother). Later in his early 20’s Munuku learned digital art and fused the techniques with his previous preferred media (wood, paints, pencils, ink, etc.). In his mid-twenties, he learned how to use DSLR cameras and began self-teaching photography & cinematography until he got his first camera years later.
Munuku is also the Founder of Mau Mau Arts (began in 2014) which is an organization that seeks to create a strong network of independent visual artists, filmmakers & performing artists on the continent with the shared goal of independence and art-driven, community-based creative education. Named after one of the groups who fought for Kenya’s independence, Mau Mau Arts believes that art is a powerful tool that can address social issues plaguing the country, such as corruption and poverty amongst others. Through workshops, street exhibitions and exchange programs, Mau Mau will connect creative artists with one another, building a network that hopefully expands in years to come.
After a while, Munuku felt he needed to pursue his real passion (art, creative writing & film) and therefore went ahead to form Mau Mau Arts as a way to unite creative individuals after seeking out ways to fill voids that were left gaping in the industry. He later transitioned into film work with his first project being as a Producer of the short film Heartshot for the 2015 48 Hour Film Festival Nairobi and later Kaleidoscope (2016), a fantasy short film, where he worked as an Executive Producer, Screenwriter & Producer. From 2017, Munuku embarked on multiple projects some of which include documentary making, music & feature film production.

Here’s Robert Mũnũku’s Demo Showreel (2015-2018):

This post has been read 263 times!