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Listen to the People of Kenya – Lower Eastern

Listen to the People of Kenya

Press Statement

A two-day induction session has been held here at St Joseph Pastoral Center, Machakos, for the officials elected to the NCCK committees in Kajiado, Kitui, Machakos and Makueni Counties, as well as the Lower Eastern Region in the 2024-2027 period.

During the induction session, the 35 leaders were sensitized on the NCCK history, constitution, governance structures, policies and programmes. In addition, the officials considered the state of the counties in the region, as well as the nation, and were inspired by the scripture recorded in Jeremiah 29: 11

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

1.         Listen to the People

The Constitution of Kenya in Article 1 (2) provides that “The people may exercise their sovereign power either directly or through their democratically elected representatives”. As such, the Members of the National Assembly and the Senators are constitutionally expected to faithfully represent the wishes and aspirations of the people in their constituencies.

Having closely monitored the spirited engagement of Kenyans on the Finance Bill 2024, we challenge both the Executive and the Parliament to listen to the people. Considering that this is not the first Finance Bill in Kenya, why is it the first one to attract such a high level of frustration and despair across the country?

We call for a complete overhaul of the Finance Bill 2024 so that it inspires hope and empowers greater productivity and dignity of life for the people of Kenya. It is important for all the elected leaders to continually remember the warning of God in Isaiah 10: 1 – 3

Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and withhold justice from the oppressed of my people, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless. What will you do on the day of reckoning, when disaster comes from afar?

If you do not listen to the people, you risk pushing this country into uncontrollable social crisis.

2.         Let Kenyans Picket

Article 37 gives every Kenyan the “right, peaceably and unarmed, to assemble, to demonstrate, to picket, and to present petitions to public authorities”. We are therefore deeply concerned about the manner in which security officers employed excessive force during the demonstrations witnessed across the country this week. We have today joined all Kenyans in mourning the youth who died after being shot. We have also prayed for the quick recovery for the more than 200 youths who were injured in the fracas, and moreso the 6 who are nursing gunshot wounds. We are also praying for the Police Officers who were injured when a teargas canister exploded.

Why was such force used yet the youth had been peaceful all day long?

Such violent breakup of peaceful picketing will only radicalize the youth and provoke violence on their part.

We call upon the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) to speedily identify and take appropriate action on all the officers who are implicated.

On their part, we call upon all Kenyans and especially the youth to continue exercising restraint and communicate their complaints and recommendations in a peaceful manner. Let each of us arise and play our part in building a nation where every Kenyan can have a productive and dignified life, just like the one described in Micah 4: 4

Every man will sit under his own vine and under his own fig tree, and no one will make them afraid.

3.         Redeem the Healthcare Services in Counties

An assessment of the four counties in this region shows that the healthcare services provided to the residents are grossly inadequate. Health facilities are poorly staffed and persistently lack medicine.  People are being pushed to seek healthcare from private facilities despite having paid taxes and contributing to the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF).

We appeal to the county governments to hear the cry of the people and heal the healthcare services by ensuring adequate staffing and medication in all the facilities. Further, we call upon the national government to engage in comprehensive and widescale public participation in the formulation of the Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF). The reports that the SHIF will reduce benefits given to contributors as compared to NHIF are a major concern for us.

4.         Address Alcohol, Drug and Substance Abuse

The rampant abuse of alcohol, drugs and substances is destroying many youths and middle aged persons in our counties. The reports that the producers and distributors of these destructive substances are known but not dealt with are a major concern to us.

We appeal for firm join action by the county and national governments to ensure that decisive action is taken against all the perpetrators without further delay. On their part, we urge the Judiciary to ensure speedy prosecution of all suspects. Do not entertain unnecessary delays.

5.         Reconstitute the IEBC for National Wellbeing

It is a major concern to all Kenyans that the persistent failure to appoint commissioners for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has put the nation at great risk and breach of the constitution. The deadline for the constitutionally required boundaries review has passed, and the residents of Banissa Constituency as well as Mumbuni North, Nyamaiya, Kisa East, Lakezone and Chewenai Wards have not been able to hold by-elections to pick their representatives.

We urge His Excellency President William Ruto and concerned stakeholders to hear the cry of the people of Kenya and facilitate appointment of the IEBC commissioners. Let us not sacrifice the Constitution on the altar of politics.

6.         Let the People Shape their Future

The ongoing parliamentary processes to implement the report of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) is a gross injustice on the residents of our counties and the entire nation. This is because the report prepared by the NADCO was not presented to the people for public review and validation. There is therefore a risk of the Members of Parliament ignoring the sovereignty of the people and enacting only their own selfish interests.

We call upon the Speakers of the National Assembly and Senate to cause the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee to undertake meaningful public participation on the NADCO report so that the people of Kenya shape their future in the proposed reforms.

Conclusion

As we conclude, we encourage all Kenyans to embrace a culture of listening to each other. None of us should take actions that they know will hurt other people. Let us all take action for the betterment of the nation, in line with the prayer we make in the National Anthem:

O God of all creation, bless this our land nation, justice be our shield and defender

May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty, plenty be found within our borders

May God bless this Lower Eastern Region; God bless Kenya,

now and always.

Signed on this 21st day of June 2024 at St Patrick’s Pastoral Center, Machakos.

Bishop Festus Malua

Chairman, NCCK Machakos County

(for the Regional Chairman)

July 2024
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