For the past two months we have constantly been taken through the murky waters of the mining industry in Kenya. From the bribes to the dictatorial leadership at the helm of the ministry to allegations and their equal counters.
I have had issues with the appointment of Najib Balala as Mining Secretary, not specifically because he was (or is) a politician, but I had my reservations about how he would handle this quiet, yet potential rich industry. Does the industry need a manager at its helm? I think not. Does it need an expert in the field? I think not. It needs one who has little expertise but with a lot of managerial experience. This however in hard to find in this industry given that most of the experts are tied up in their congested dust filled university cubicles and the others, the managerial extremes, are in their suits earning more than our President and his deputy combined, at these global multinationals. So I guess we will have to be content with what we have.
It’s dictatorial what he did when he took away the licenses of the twenty or so investors. Days when a government minister would single-handedly dish out or revoke licenses given in accordance to the law, whatever the time they were handed, out ended on 27TH August 2010. He never offered the companies any chance to come clean and that sets a bad example. In a recent television interview he admitted to having held no consultation regarding the new royalties that were being proposed. This type of leadership should be frowned upon as it will scare away investors who will feel left out in important issues that affect them. I am in no way siding with the mining companies, they do need regulation and they do need to have their fair share of regulation. Accusations of bribery this early into the job are signs of bad times ahead for the ministry whether true or not. People will get the perception that dirty dealings are happening behind closed doors. Given that we are still in the process of writing new laws to govern the industry and experimenting on what works best, the confusion is expected but this should not create chaos in the process.
Things have cooled down over the past two weeks as every cabinet secretary has been to China selling everything we call our republic in the name of investment. Am surprised no one has come up with calls of colonialism or any other fancy names we have given it these days, but I hope the deals they make will be made public so that our civil society can have work to do instead of busy hyping up our social spheres with hashtag movements that don’t help the country.