Friday, 17 December 2010


1. Kenyan Politicians Feeding Fat

It is a tragic and agonizing spectacle that arises before us, as we draw back the curtains from the mortifying obscenity of Kenya’s political pay policy. Kenyan President Kibaki’s annual tax-free salary of $615,000 US dollars “overshadows the earnings of leaders of world leading economies such as [the United States], Germany, Russia, Japan, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia,” reported The Standard. “A Kenyan Cabinet minister earns approximately $216,000 annually, plus thousands more in allowances and a host of other perks,” making more than their counterparts in high-flying trillion-dollar class economies. [1][2]

Bastiat spoke of this misplaced do-goodism, for he wrote: "For the good of the service, we must surround certain offices with an aura of prestige and dignity. That is the way to attract to them men of merit. Innumerable unfortunate people turn to the President of the Republic [for help]…A certain amount of ostentation in the ministerial and diplomatic salons is part of the machinery of constitutional governments." The fundamental objective of an effective human resources remuneration policy, I surmise, is to attract, retain and motivate duly qualified and competent workforce to accomplish organizational or executive aspirations. Nowhere is the contrary more audaciously manifest than in Kenya’s curious case. The unseen paradox is in the fact that “Kenya has a GDP of US$29.5 billion and a per capita of US$1,600, while America has a GDP of US$13.79 trillion and a per capita of US$46,000,” yet the earnings of the latter’s politicians are loose change in comparison to the former’s. [3]

Moreover, we pay taxes based on the patriotic conviction that we are contributing to nation-building. Deluded we must be, for Bastiat refuted this very doctrine, namely: "Taxes are the best investment; they are life-giving dew. See how many families they keep alive, and follow in imagination their indirect effects on industry; they are infinite, as extensive as life itself.” Discomfiture inundates me, as I write that our President and Cabinet Ministers exempt themselves from taxes, which plainly means that they exclude themselves from nation-building.

Concerns transform from atrocious to inhumane, remembering that while more than 60 per cent of the Kenyan population survives on less than $1 a day, the tiny ruling elite has conveniently garnered itself “money to burn”. The Telegraph reported: “Kenya's expanded new government will spend 80 per cent of the entire national budget on luxury vehicles, inflated salaries for ministers and general running costs… Only [20 per cent] will be left for roads, schools and hospitals for Kenya's 38 million people.” [4]

Furthermore, it is unseen that this licentious profligacy comes at the expense of high taxes imposed upon the already impecunious population. Bastiat wittily unraveled this hidden truth for us: “You compare the nation to a parched piece of land and the tax to a life-giving rain. So be it. But you should also ask yourself where this rain comes from, and whether it is not precisely the tax that draws the moisture from the soil and dries it up.”
2. The IMF and its Little Colonies

“There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt. The conquest by the sword has the disadvantage that the conquered are likely to rebel...Conquest by debt can occur so silently and insidiously that the conquered don’t even realize they have new masters…‘Tribute’ is collected in the form of debts and taxes, which the people believe they are paying for their own good…Without realizing it, they are conquered, and the instruments of their own society are used to transfer their wealth to their captors and make the conquest complete.” These words, coming from the pen of Ellen Brown in “The Web of Debt”, accurately epitomize the present day International Monetary Fund (IMF). Let me explain.

When the IMF seals deals with unprecedented haste, bypassing traditional procedures like Parliamentary approval, it arouses nothing but curiosity. Reported The Nation (2001):
“If you ever doubted that we have surrendered our sovereignty to a faceless cabal of foreign bureaucrats, then you will find very illuminating the appalling admission by the Attorney-General this week that draft graft laws were submitted for approval to the IMF before the cabinet and Parliament had a chance to see them. The Kenyans signed the agreement before proof-reading it. Kenya had committed itself to repealing laws it had already repealed - to taking action it had already taken.” [5]

It is unseen that, committing to uncritical monetary dependence on the IMF is tantamount to submitting a nation’s sovereignty to a foreign organization that doesn’t have any legislative mandate over its institutions. In what way, then, is Kenya the independent Republic of Kenya, while it’s obliviously practicing neo-liberalism under the auspices of the IMF?

Bastiat relates the allegory of Algeria: "Vote fifty million francs to build ports and roads in Algeria so that we can transport colonists there, build houses for them, and clear fields for them. If you do this, you will have...encouraged employment in Africa, and increased trade in Marseilles. It would be all profit." Let us create the parallels; let the Algeria of France be the Kenya of the IMF. What is not seen is that in reality, the IMF, with its austerity measures and largeur of the heart, puts a country in such a big debt that it usually can’t repay, and then demands this quid pro quo which they call a "conditionality" or "good governance", thereby essentially puppeteering their little new colonies as they please.
“Like any creditor, the IMF receives most of its operational-cost income from the periodic interest charges that are paid by nations who borrow from the Fund,” a UICIFD* report enlightens us. [6] To this, Bastiat humorously questions: “You should ask yourself further whether the soil receives more of this precious water from the rain than it loses by the evaporation?”
Besides, international reports have criticized the IMF “for its subsidizing corrupt and dictatorial Moi government”. [7] The IMF school is obsolete, and is acting at the height of imprudence carrying on its cynical role as an accomplice in propping up dictatorial governments, while jeopardizing the prosperity of innocent nations in the process.

* University of Iowa Centre for International Finance and Development

3. The Titanium Story of Kenya

In terms of minerals and natural reserves, Africa is unquestionably the richest continent in the world. Alas, lack of economic and/or industrial capacity to exploit these valuable resources often throws countries into a quandary. It is in such sticky circumstances that governments invite international conglomerates into the picture, obliviously risking losing out on several unseen fronts.

Bastiat observed: “Men have a natural inclination, if they are not prevented by force, to go for a bargain that is, for something that, for an equivalent satisfaction, spares them labor whether this bargain comes to them from a capable foreign producer or from a capable mechanical producer”

“The government is in dire need of foreign funds and the Titanium mining venture by Tiomin Kenya Ltd, a subsidiary of Tiomin Resources Inc of Canada, will get government clearance to go on with the project whether environmentalists in Kenya or local people in Kwale District like it or not,” reported The East African [8] Tiomin hoped to mine an average of 330,000 tonnes of titanium-bearing Ilmenite, 77,000 tonnes of Rutile and 37,000 tonnes of Zircon a year. Capital costs had been estimated at $176 million. This is all that is seen. [9]

Now, the deal sounded too sweet, which meant that the stakes were too high. What is not seen is the fact that the excavation would irreparably damage the paradisiacal Kenyan Coast, leading to crippling economic damage, recalling that the Kenyan coast is a major world tourist destination and revenue earner.“The assessment had failed to foresee that soils from the strip mined area may be washed into rivers and ultimately into Shimoni Marine Park, 20 miles downstream and that removing vegetative cover in an area so close to Shimba Hills reserve may change the climatological balance, thus harming the reserve,” noted The East African.

Characteristically, the Government, courtesy of fat-bellied ministers, would implement high handed measures to force peasants out of the mining areas uncompensated, stirring conflict. Bastiat had the former in mind when he said: “A cabinet minister has his table more lavishly set, it is true; but a farmer has his field less well drained, and this is just as true.”

Besides, it is unforeseen that disturbing radioactive rocks in Kwale would in the long run expose the local populace to grave radiological illnesses. In the words of Bastiat, “what is not seen counterbalances what is seen; and the outcome of the whole operation is an injustice, all the more deplorable in having been perpetrated by the law”. Unless such ventures are stopped, “titanium will become what oil turned out to be for the Rivers State of Nigeria - a curse.”


[1] The Standard- “What President Kibaki Earns” Published on 17/04/2010

[2] Newsweek, “Kenya- Where It Pays To Be A Politician” by Andrew Ehrenkranz

[3] “Kenyan President Earns More Salary Than The Rest”

[4] “Kenya’s Cabinet Soaks Up 80pc Of The Budget”

[5] The Nation (Nairobi), 20 May 2001: “Welcome To Kenya, IMF’s Little Colony” by Mutuma Mathiu,

[6] UICIFD Briefing No. 5: “Funding The IMF” by Michael Sarabia, November 2007,

[7] The New Kenya Network, 9 March, 1995, “IMF Under Fire”

[8] The East African, “Don't Let Titanium Become The Curse Of Kwale” by Sam Wainaina, (Nairobi), 18 January 2001,

[9] “Kenyan titanium mining project delayed yet again” by Daniel Wallis, Saturday, 08 Nov 2008


1. What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen- by Frédéric Bastiat.

2. Web of Debt: The Shocking Truth About Our Money System and How We Can Break Free- By Ellen Hodgson Brown, Reed Simpson.


Name: Tom Sewe

Date of Birth: 15th January, 1985

Citizenship: Kenyan

Country of Residence: Ukraine

City: Lviv

Address: Street- Dnistrovska 3, Appartment 38

Phone: +380 93 3360485


School: Lviv National Medical University

Major: General Medicine

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