How was May/Labour/Workers’ Day for you? I was working. I’d much rather have been sitting in the sunshine, although if that had entailed having to listen to John Munyes spout vapid platitudes, I’d probably have heckled him too.
Quite frankly, I was surprised that Munyes didn’t get lynched, although now that I think about it, that could be the reason that Odinga and Kibaki found themselves otherwise engaged and unable to attend the Uhuru Park festivities.
The people of Kenya are right to be angry. The PEV of last year has given us a cobbled-together, incoherent, inefficient and incompetent government. It is crippled with inertia, and has no real agenda, on account of the fact that rather than focus on issues, the two main factions instead jockey for position. This bloated, inept cavalcade of mediocrities is hugely expensive and it is the put-upon Kenyan taxpayers who are forced to support it through their taxes. Hell, I don’t begrudge those who were throwing rocks. I can think of various things I’d like to do to Kenyan politicians, but most of them break the Geneva Conventions.
The most insulting thing, in my opinion, is that the government takes pride in the fact that it has been able to offer workers an 18% pay increase. Uh, guys? Inflation is running at 25.8% – you’ve effectively given them a pay cut. The cost of living is not going down for these people; the least you could have done is at least allow them to stand still, not set them back. While the employers’ groups may be happy with the increase for not being as large as they feared, we should recognise that this will affect Kenyan society as a whole.
I’ve mentioned before that youth unemployment is one of the biggest dangers facing us as a country. While the recent measures announced by the government are helpful, they are not enough to combat the problem which, far from being imminent, is already upon us. Demographically, Kenya is a young country. And a young country with millions of young people with no money and no opportunities is a country looking for trouble. If the current government wants to avoid being thrown out by force at the hands of a disillusioned and disenfranchised electorate, they need to stop fighting amongst themselves and come up with a comprehensive strategy to stimulate the economy. Quickly. If not, future Labour Day speeches may not be accompanied by rocks and heckling, but by something far more violent.
[Image by The Falafel]