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Justice & Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo – is he listening?

The Kenya Association for the Deaf (KAD) has complained that ‘the State’ isn’t listening to them. As reported in The Standard on September 20 (‘Stop listening to us with half an ear, deaf tell State’) the Association, which represents more than 600,000 people in Kenya with hearing impairment, believe that the deaf community are unfairly treated as far as education and access to information are concerned and they want the Government to do something about it.

KAD have a point. As a percentage of their numbers the deaf are less likely to graduate from university, for example, and face multiple barriers to their empowerment as active Kenyan citizens. More action is needed on the part of the Ministry of Education, those responsible for ‘gender, Children and Social Development’, and indeed the Justice and Constitutional Affairs ministry.

It was in a speech delivered at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre to mark ‘International Deaf Awareness Week’ that Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo called on the deaf to make use of facilities available in the country and for parents to have their children’s ears tested. Not that the Minister delivered the speech himself you understand, it was read to the conference by his assistant William Cheptumo.

KAD was right, the State isn’t listening. The Forum wonders if they even care.


One group that is listening and may be listening more to you in the future, is Kenya’s National Security Intelligence Service.

As reported on the back page of The Nation last week (‘Spies seek legal rights to tap phones in Bill’), the proposed National Intelligence Service Act ‘seeks to empower the service to obtain information by tapping telephone conversations’. They are also seeking powers to ‘install, maintain or remove’ anything from private property once a warrant from the High Court has been granted: in short, permission to bug.

The draft National Intelligence Service Act is not all bad. It does seek to outlaw torture, would allow Parliament to vet the director-general of the agency before appointment and ensures that he or she will not be politician (although that won’t stop it being a political appointment).

The Forum is concerned, however. We daily read and hear fine statements congratulating ourselves for the introduction of the new constitution but just over a year after the referendum that ushered it in we now find that our finger prints must be taken if we are to be allowed to fly out of Jomo Kenyatta Airport and now that it will be much easier for the State to listen in to our conversations.

The Forum says the National Intelligence Service Act should not be rejected out of hand but it will require serious scrutiny by Parliament.


Making a phone call has just got a little bit more expensive since Safaricom announced that they have increased the cost of airtime by a Shilling per minute. Well, no worries says the Forum, it’s a commercial decision but another aspect of Safaricom’s operations does irritate us and by all accounts, many others too.

Many people reading this posting will have received a text from Safaricom stating that their Sim card is not registered (even if it has been), must be registered and to get along to the nearest Safaricom outlet as soon as possible in order to avoid being cut off.

So what happens when you get there? Do they have necessary forms? No, never. The helpful attendants however, advise customers to join the long queue to sign up to Mpesa (that’s mobile money transfer for those reading this from outside Kenya), which they say has the same effect as registering your Sim card.

So you get your phone ‘registered’, you don’t get cut off but Safaricom signs up, under duress, thousands of potential Mpesa accounts.

As a form of coercive marketing it’s quite brilliant, and, says the Forum, utterly improper. It’s also bad PR by Safaricom putting them up there with such irritants as increased matatu fares when it’s raining, decreasing portion sizes in Nairobi restaurants and police officers who can’t help you until give them a little something.


Finally, regular readers will recall our posting about the lessons Kenya could learn from the recent presidential elections in Zambia (‘Zambia’s election of “King Cobra” and some lessons for Kenya’): well, there’s more.

Yesterday’s Daily Nation reported that Dr Guy Scott, a muzungu born and raised in Zambia but of British-Scottish descent and voted Member of Parliament for Lusaka Central, has been appointed Vice-President of Zambia by newly elected President Michael Sata. Dr Scott said it proved Zambians are not racists.

The Forum asks: what chance of a mzungu, or a Muslim, or indeed a woman, being appointed VP in Kenya?

Who Killed Dr Robert Ouko and Why?


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