That is the essence of Sessional Paper no. 1 of 2019. In the unnecessarily lengthy policy document, the Ministry of Education proposes to hand over the work of education to private sector, and then become a bloated organ for supervising and regulating educational institutions. This institutional laziness explains why an education student was recently overheard saying that they have no intention to teach when they are through with their studies. The student intends to work in educational "policy," without ever doing the work of teaching.
A good part of this middle man role, which Fanon predicted that African governments would play, mirrors the incompetence of the ruling British elite. Our elites have mirrored the British elite in being, as Jerotich Seii recently said, "too short-sighted, too corrupt and too foolish" understand broader society and systems. Our bureaucrats are bluffing their way around, just as the British ruling elite are doing. In the conservative paper The Economist, the colomnist Bagehot wrote that the British elite "is introverted and self-regarding, sending its members straight from university to jobs in the Westminster village, where they marry others of their kind. It relies on bluff rather than expertise..."
Bagehot's observation points to how the elite have become not only incompetent, but incestuous. Because how do the people in government get jobs? By knowing each other. And ethnicity is only a fraction of it. People are getting their school mates, workmates, masseuses and hairdressers to do business with government. It is now rumored that being an alumnus of the president's alma mater gets one an automatic job.
It has become so bad that pirate sector has a word to justify this incest. They call it "networking." And networking does not mean the end of meritocracy (which is a problematic concept). It means that we are hiring versions of the same thing. It is unlikely that one will ever hear someone recommend another saying: "I know someone whose guts I hated, but I know they can do the job."
So it is not surprising that George Magoha, who was CS and later KNEC chair under his mentor Fred Matiang'i, asks "who the hell" we think we are. Educational thinking is not his strength (which could explain his numerous references to his own academic credentials). An educational journalist, brave enough to ask Magoha how his policy is informed by work of people like Sifuna or Bennaars, will find that the professor is bluffing.
Who needs government?
But if the government is just a bank and a middle man between us and pirate sector, then what's the use of government? Should we do away with government and let the market approach us directly? We the people can then decide who will build our roads, our schools, based on their company portfolios.
But the private sector would not allow this to happen. In fact, the private sector needs government more than we wananchi do. Private sector is not as entrepreneurial or innovative as they pretend. Private sector has no ideas, and it cant stand competition. That's why it bribes poiticians and civil servants to get guaranteed business from the government, or simply just campaigns to join government. Think of it: what would Muigai be without government? Can he run a business on his own? What ideas does he have? Can he have a conversation on history, politics and society on the basis of ideas?
No. Because Muigai is made by government. Not the other way round.
Which means that capitalism is not about the market. Capitalism a feudal system in which rich and incompetent families, like his, use the state to extract labor and wealth from us by force, and then redistribute the wealth to their feudal princes in the provinces, in the name of "merit" and "business."
Just like these families, the private sector needs the state to make money. If private sector was required to sell its products to us directly, it would have to be innovative and to appeal to us. It would have to employ and pay well our young people for their ideas. It would have to compete with other providers. But it is too incompetent, and too greedy and selfish, so it needs to force us to buy its products. And who provides that force? The government. So the private sector bribes government.
The essence of privatization is that it is easier for private sector to get GoK to force us to pay taxes, and manipulate policy, and then private sector gets its money from taxes. Just like slavery needed the state to protect slave masters, private sector needs the government to pay for services we wouldnt pay for if we had a choice.
You know that private sector has no ideas when it spends so much time immitating government and selling social services, instead of doing actual innovation and production of green goods that can save this planet from destruction. Private sector is not innovative AT ALL. In fact, private sector is driven by envy of government. It looks at all the taxes in government and thinks to itself: how can someone other than me have that much money? Rev. William Barber put it this way:
"The reason they want to privatize education, is because a lot of people who are greedy know that they can't make as much money out in other market now. So they want to come in and siphon off money from the government for their own personal pockets. Some of them don't hate government; they just hate government money going to anybody but them."
A different way of doing business
So when the revolution comes, we should throw out this lot in government, but also invent a new style of doing business. No more should we have business owners who are not skilled in making the products or in the services they provide. If you own a hospital, you must be a PRACTISING doctor or nurse. Even if you do the accounts or cleaning for the business in which you work, you must have your turn on the factory floor or at the theater of a hospital or in the kitchen of the restaurant. And everyone who works must own and have a say in managing the company. Everybody must work for a stint in a different section than they are employed in, so that they also do the actual work that brings money to the organization. And if their skill isn't related to the core business of the organization, the workers take turns at the reception, cleaning and other services, so that they can see what the real work actually looks like.
Then we wont have failed entrepreneurs and spoiled brats running government, being bribed by equally incompetent fat cats who flatter themselves that they are entrepreneurs and innovators.
Private sector cant hold a candle to the creativity of the people of Kenya. Yesterday, I heard a joke from Jeff Koinange which I'm sure he didn't intend people like me to use, but which I will adapt here.
One day, some people went to God and asked God: how come you have given Kenyans everything? They have a good climate and you have blessed them with runners and so many other talented people.
Then God replied: You think they have everything? Have you seen their leaders?
The people of Kenya are awesome and creative. We are being let down by leaders in every sector of society, not just in politics. So many talented Kenyans would have turned various sectors of this country around, but every sector has lazy, unimaginative bullies as leaders who do the best they can to make sure that nothing goes right if they will not get the sole credit. They are like King Saul envious of David after the women sang a murderous song" "Saul has slain his thousands, but David has slain his tens of thousands." And because these leaders promote only people like themselves, they are succeeded by people who do the same darn thing.
And this is not unique to Africa. It is the essential nature of capitalism. In fact, many of the privatization policies in Kenya come from the World Bank, or from the inept British elite through DfID. And as David Graeber observes in his landmark book Bullshit jobs, so many people in employment worldwide are engaged in a masochistic balance between performing their jobs satisfactorily, but not too well that they threaten their superiors. That's why it's time for us to explore different ways of organizing work, such as borrowing ideas from the cooperative movement.