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Wednesday, 06 Jul 2016 18:11 EATtmatalanga@kenyafreepress.com
The news report in which Tharaka Nithi senator Kithure Kindiki opposes his county’s plan to stock local rivers with fish fingerlings has caught my attention. Last month, the county initiated a project to stock the Kathita, Thanantu, Maara and other permanent rivers with over 10,000 fingerlings of fish as part of a wider strategy for fisheries development. In addition to promoting fish breeding, the project was also meant to promote food security as well as dietary diversification.
The senator’s main argument in opposing the project stems from his concern about potential corruption. Kindiki says that funds spent under the project would be hard to account for or audit. But he also lamented that fish in the rivers would benefit neighboring counties as well instead of Tharaka Nithi alone which is the initiator and financier of the project.
“How will auditors check out if rivers have been stocked with the fish? It will also be difficult for the county government to control fish from moving to other counties. If someone fishes in Meru County he will not care if that fish came from Tharaka Nithi,” the senator was reported saying. How ridiculous!
That level of pettiness in a national leader is unheard of in our country. While we have leaders who have looted national coffers dry, making extreme wealth off taxes from the poorest Kenyans, none has ever articulated a position that is so patently selfish on a project meant to benefit his own people.
Senators are national leaders, and it behooves Kindiki to articulate a vision for the whole country even if, as expected, his first allegiance is to the people of Tharaka Nithi. But Kindiki's proclamation that Tharaka Nithi’s projects should never benefit people from Meru or other counties that border it was too myopic.
Kindiki is a professor of law, the majority leader in the Senate and a politician with ambitions to become a deputy presidential running mate in 2022 general elections. But a leader who can treat his own people so coldly can't possibly be properly grounded in national politics. It is little wonder that Kindiki has demonstrated little appreciation for moderation and bipartisanship in national politics.
In the same function where Kindiki disparaged the fisheries project, he touted his own contribution to the county’s development by claiming that he had ensured that financial allocation by the national government to Tharaka Nithi increased each year since devolution was rolled out in 2013. This is absolute rubbish, since allocations to county governments have been increasing year-on-year across the board.
A close examination of Kindiki’s position on the fisheries project reveals only deep revulsion against the governor. It is senators like Kindiki who are sabotaging devolution by elevating petty political differences with governors to the level of policy. But they are inflicting substantial damages as a result.
Matalanga is a student of journalism at the East Africa School of Media Studies and an intern writer at the Kenya Free Press.