Government of Kenya should declare official position on debt

The Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN)

July 19, 2005

The Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN) is increasingly getting disturbed by the government’s mixed positions regarding the cancellation of Kenya’s external debt. Its’ various positions only help to confuse Kenyans and to mock the efforts of the campaigners against the debt. Mixed positions is no position.

Last weekend’s statement by some of the country’s envoys abroad to the effect that they are not “pushing the debt forgiveness agenda for Kenya” is in sharp contrast to recent statements calling for Kenya’s debt relief by Prof. Anyang Nyong’, Prof. Wangari Maathai, and even at some point by His Excellency President Mwai Kibaki. To date, the only notable silence on this issue has been that of the Minister of Finance, Hon. Mwiraria and his ministry. We can deduce from Mwiraria’s loud silence that either he is terribly undecided on the issue or he does not want to hear anything about it. This is in spite of the fact that in the 2005/6 budget, he has allocated a whopping Ksh 112 billion (22% of the entire budget) to debt repayments, more than the budget on education (Ksh 96 billion) and equivalent to the budgets of six ministries – Health (Sh 30 billion), Roads (Sh 28 billion), Water (Sh 10 billion), Agriculture (8 billion), Transport (Sh11billion) and Finance (Sh 25billion).

We also don’t ascribe Kenya to seek debt relief within the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative which is [mired] in numerous IMF/World Bank conditionalities which further impoverishes the people and sells the sovereignty of the country for a pittance, but we don’t buy the strategy of seeking to reschedule the repayments of some loans. This is escapism. Who will pay them later in the years? The youth of this country, [60% of them] currently unemployed, at the expense of their social and country’s development.

The Former KANU regime perfected the art of rescheduling repayments of the principal debt while dutifully servicing the interest on time as it strove to put up a face of ability and civility to the rest of the world. Look where we are now – 17 million Kenyans (56% of the population) impoverished beyond reason, 60% of the population unemployed, per capita income of $350 and a deteriorating life expectancy, 48 years for women and 47 years for men.

We ask the Government of Kenya to be firm and united with debt campaigners in demanding 100% unconditional cancellation of Kenya’s external debt for the following reasons:

1. To release funds for the country’s and people’s sustainable development;

2. Our debt is largely odious and illegitimate, contracted by a corrupt ruling elite and conveyors of the creditors out to make money;

3. As a matter of justice. We have paid this debt many times over, through direct monetary repayments, and through colonial and post-colonial injustices by the creditors.

Njuki Githethwa
Coordinator, Kenya Debt Relief Network (KENDREN)

Categories: Africa, Kenya, Odious Debts

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