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Why we need EVEN more ministries!

Apr 13, 2008 Management, Sunday Nation

Having given the matter sufficient thought, I now conclude that we need even more ministries than we think we do. That is my position and it will never change, not ever.

It is clear from the justifications being bandied about for 40-odd ministries that whatever is important in Kenya must have a ministry in charge of it. That makes plenty of sense: how can anything be important if there isn’t a whole cabinet minister looking after it? That is why we are hearing about ministries in charge of implementing Vision 2030, looking after Metropolitan Nairobi, co-operating with our neighbours, etc.

But once you go down this line of thought, it becomes obvious that 40-plus ministries are nothing! You need many, many more, because there are many, many issues, problems and activities that are left orphaned in Kenya today by the lack of a caring minister above them. I suggest a few this Sunday.

Ministry of Golf. Golf is our national sport. Or rather, it is the sport of the political, social and material elite, which is the same thing. Forget about football – that is for urchins. The golf course is where this country is run. It is where deals are done; where networks are built; where strategies are hatched; where alliances are sealed. They are very important, those clubs and balls and greens. So let us take them seriously.

I propose a Ministry of Golf to take charge of all matters pertaining to the game of presidents and prime ministers. The Honourable Minister would be expected to manage all the country’s courses and handle a fund for their upkeep. He (why would he be a she?) would ensure that Kenya is internationally competitive in this regard and attracts the best of the world’s moneyed wastrels. Naturally Mheshimiwa would have to set a personal standard: those without a single-figure handicap need not apply.

Ministry of Nyama Choma. Barbecued meat is clearly the largest contributor to GDP in Kenya – just think about how much meat is consumed every day. Think of all the economic linkages – the pastoralists, the farmers, the abattoirs, the cooks and waiters and all the rest. We seem to always focus on tourism and horticulture and ICT, when it is clear that all we need to do to become a first-world nation is to just eat more meat.

We take our meat very lightly in this country. There are even periodic rumours that we are being fed dogs and donkeys and worse, instead of the goats and cows we crave. So it is high time a waziri stepped in to take charge: manage the supply chain, develop standards, make nyama choma our leading tourist attraction and biggest national export. The possibilities are mind-boggling. But the minister must be a man (again, this one is not for the ladies) of fulsome appetites, well versed in the ways of the flesh. Several candidates spring immediately to mind.

Ministry of Conferences. Again, this is a national pastime that is just not taken seriously enough. Conferences, seminars, workshops – that’s where educated Kenyans spend their time. We are a nation of workshop-keepers, as I mentioned years ago in this column. Need a strategy? Call a conference! Invite thousands of delegates! Book all the hotels in town! Holding an election? Grab all your delegates and lock them away in a remote coastal resort for a workshop!

But it is also clear that no one is looking at this from up above. Why aren’t more Kenyans being encouraged to hold seminars? Corporations, NGOs and government bodies are of course in the game; but what about religious bodies; the jua kali sector; tribes; children; househelps? We know funding is no problem: donors fall over themselves to fund any conference, any time. Think about the economic benefits for just a minute: hotel revenues; daily allowances; equipment hire; speaker fees. We need to set standards and maintain them. Madam Minister, step forward – this one is yours.

Ministry of Ministries. The more you think about it, the more you realise we have not even scratched the surface yet. There are so many possibilities, so many opportunities. In fact, what we need is a Ministry that thinks about Ministries: how many we need; what they should be called; who should head them; where they should sit; where they should be in the protocol order. Why should the president and prime minister have to rack their brains and spend sleepless nights every so often? Let us make it a function of government to handle all this complexity.

We should immediately appoint a new Minister of Ministries. The new waziri would then engage in a comprehensive consultative process – the entire country must engage with this exercise. In fact, a national conference is probably called for. That would be perfect, because it would immediately involve all the other new ministries I have just created: Golf, Nyama Choma, and Conferences. They would hit the ground running, and be useful to the nation immediately.

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