Why the Kenya Revenue Authority should partake responsibility of tax exemption for the disabled Kenyans!

During the past 3 decades in Kenya there have been numerous changes in our society with respect to the management and treatment of people with disabilities.
Of course, there ar numerous success stories of actual improved disability mainstreaming.
How did the changes occur?
Many legislative and societal changes have taken place for instance, the disability act of 2003, the UNCRPD 2006 and the 2010 constitution and several disability related regulations. Furthermore, these gains have been necessitated by the lobbing and advocacy by disabled persons and their organizations.
On the other hand, Disability mainstreaming and work to end discrimination against disabled persons have been on both government and non-state actors’ agendas for decades. Why is disability mainstreaming still important?
Some of us feel that “everyone” in government and non-state actors who include development and human rights organisations are well aware of the issues. But the truth is that in organisations without
any explicit focus on disability mainstreaming or disability social justice, the levels of awareness for disability-based discrimination (and the need to end it) tend to be uneven.
Am not surprised by the inaccessible built environment, inaccessible information or the negative attitudes which still exist among the Kenyan society.

Efforts to promote disability equality remain limited and often isolated. Some would prefer to drop “disability” altogether, busy as they feel with all those other
issues that must be “mainstreamed” – good governance, environmental protection, HIV/AIDS prevention, “you name it!”

most government and private entities normally pass on the back when dealing with disability matters!
I opine that ignorance in the Kenyan society is very expensive for disabled persons.
Why should and institution require permission to offer disabled person a service?

As citizens we do not require permission to get a passport, when one has Malaria a disabled person doesn’t require permission.
Why does Kenya revenue authority run away from its responsibilities?
As long as one has uploaded the right documentation there is no need of putting more barrier for the disabled persons.
Why are policy makers silent on this injustice?
Most top government policy makers and stakeholders have done benchmarking of disability services in other countries and they know how good and proper systems work for the people.
Why are they not actualizing simple and impactful solutions to the disabled persons?

. But there are at least five reasons why “disability mainstreaming” must continue:
list of 5 items
1. Organisations that are committed to universal human rights have a responsibility to ensure their work respects and promotes human rights. Disabled rights
are human rights, enshrined in widely accepted international treaties as the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities UNCRPD 2006.

Any rights-based approach that neglects disabled persons rights is inadequate.

2. International movements and campaigns rally large numbers of disabled people. Disabled persons make the largest minority group in the world

if government institutions who are the planners, implementers and evaluators ignore disabled interests and needs, and refrain from
engaging disabled persons as interlocutors, collaborators and allies.
They will never get it right!
3. Many development and human rights agencies are into education and campaigning – i.e., they attempt to spread ideas around, and to mobilise others to
join them in their cause. The messages they convey, implicitly or explicitly,
influence people’s minds: research has shown that campaigning can reinforce or weaken people’s value systems – broadly speaking, what they consider to
be “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. (See for example the gender mainstreaming angle.
Hence, it is important to avoid reinforcing values that condone discrimination and other violations against disabled persons
which would be in stark contradiction with the development and human rights goals most of us defend.
The disability organizations need to take lead in voicing what needs to be don on tax related concerns.
Disabled persons should not just be raising concerns on the social media but take the demands to the Kenya revenue authority.
The Kenya revenue authority need to work along side disabled persons in order to ensure smooth and faster process is achieved.
4. disability -based violence is not only one of the most pervasive human rights violations, it also jeopardises development. For example, large numbers of disabled persons have experienced delayed service delivery due to the bureaucratic processes. For instance, delayed in tax exemption renewal, with
dire consequences for their physical well-being, their mental health and their social status. Getting tax exemption is right, but y risk their
lives because of high cost of transport, psychological wellbeing. The Kenya revenue authority should know that most disabled persons are unemployed and for those who do not get access to the service
are likely to feel abused, something is deeply wrong.
Additionally, the Kenya economy is highly affected by wastage of hours on the road.
The tax exemption should have been simplified through decentralization of Kenya revenue authority services at the county.
In other words, if the digitalization process ways actualized the staff at Kenya revenue authority would be able to automatically issue exemption certificates without delay.
The disability mainstreaming focal point person at Kenya revenue has to actualize the dreams of disabled persons by ensuring the system works beyond himself or herself.
Are there government institutions, private sectors who have been given tax relief by the Kenya revenue authority for promoting disability employment and improving access for disabled persons in Kenya?
5. In terms of efficiency, any organisation has a responsibility to serve the disable persons who need their service.
Disabled persons should not be treated as second class citizen in government services.
Siting an example in 2019 May the Kenyan government in collaboration with world bank launched the braille version of the 2030 vision which in essence non blind persons read a decade ago. Is this fair?
The Kenyan policy makers need to stop the mancantile policy process and adapt solution-oriented policy and procedures.

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.
Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.

THE CHALLENGE OF MAKING IT IN KENYA AS A BLIND MAN! Guest Author Reuben Kigame

Allow me to be candid. I am blind and it is hard making it in Kenya, no matter how qualified, gifted, blessed or otherwise. I am not talking about the usual things one has to contend with every day such as stereotyping and stigmatization. I am talking about having everything you can have with regard to qualification and abilities but not going very far; why? You are blind. I mean, you cannot see; and that is a problem. I am not talking about affirmative action – which, by the way does not exist – but about having all you can have and still having to count on God alone to make it in life. I am not suggesting that there is another person to count on besides God, but that you realize without God it is not worth living here.
I apologize for what you are about to read in advance, but if it will help someone understand something, I will have achieved something. This is partly my motivation for being part of the prayer to hand over Kenya back to God next week. So, please bear with me and be patient with me as you read, because tonight, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body, God knows.
So, what does it feel like being Reuben and being blind in Kenya? First of all, people talk to you through other people, assuming that, because you are blind, you also cannot hear. They will tell my wife who is right next to me things like, “Tell him I have said hi!” or, “Tell him I like his songs! … …!” It used to get to me. Now it does not, and I just laugh it away and chuckle back, “Please tell him/her back for me that I have said hi! … …!” It is equally assumed that because I am blind, if there is one seat in a place, my wife or daughter should not have it because they can see, and I can’t. So, if I tell my wife to have the seat as I stand, she is looked at as unkind and unthinking. Reason? To be blind is also to be unable to stand as your wife or daughter sits. I have been the talk of Eldoret when I have gone jogging or shopping with equal measure. But all this is child-play compared to what you are about to read. Let us talk about employment first.
It was early 1987 when I asked for a short-term teaching job at Ebusiloli Secondary School after completing my Form 6. I was denied the job. They kept me waiting. They finally told me to call my dad so they could talk to him. Need I say anything more? I did not get the job. Someone else was hired. Being in Vihiga County, I could partly understand why, when running for office to be its first Governor in 2013, although I beat all the odds and made it to the ballot, some of my opponents had very bad things to say by way of convincing the voters that they should vote for them instead of me. One of them from my own Bunyore village literally undertook campaigning for Moses Akaranga and made everyone around him and wherever he went believe that I did not even know how to count money and so I would not be able to handle the county funds … It is too much to entrust billions to a blind man; they would be stolen and he would not even know where to start handling economic issues. Another told people that I would not be in a position to assess any projects because I would not be able to tell even how a good-looking house is from a bad-looking one. … In short, it was equally easy to steal my votes because I did not even know how to count ballot papers. I swallowed it all, complete with the numerous promises of Vihiga pastors and bishops that they would vote for me because I was a Christian like them, and then … the rest is history.
When I lost the election, I called Moses Akaranga and conceded defeat. I told him that if he needed me, I would be willing to share my agenda with him. The only time he reached out to me was by proxy inviting me for a meeting where he was to meet with “disabled persons” in Vihiga at Mbale. What was he going to do? Just give them some food and they tell them that he cared for them. In short, I did not go. I told the person who was inviting me, two days to the event that I will not come. I would only go if there was agenda. I felt insulted and I feel he insulted persons living with disability.
Let me fast-forward to the day I finally wanted to get married after college and had done everything except for the buying of the rings. I then took Mercy to the jeweler at one of the shops in Nairobi. First, the staff did not want to talk to me because they were busy serving other customers, mark you, including those who kept coming after me. I finally grubbed the courage to insist on being served next and so was reluctantly asked, “What do you want?” I said I wanted to buy some wedding rings. I was asked if I was the one getting married. I said “yes.”
“There are many different types … 100, 200, 300 and some more expensive. …” said he as he walked away to serve another customer.
I insisted, “Do you have any others?”
“Yes, but they are quite expensive, like diamond, gold, mixed, pure, many, many, many.” He walked away again.
“I want a pure gold ring,” I said.
He was quiet. I repeated myself. He then just said, “They are very expensive.”
To cut the story short. I ended up buying the most expensive rings he had left and I could hear that I was the talk of the street as I left, shocked. I cannot even recount how many times I have been denied the opportunity to check out a cooker or stereo, just because they believed I could not afford or did not understand what I was buying. As a young high school teacher, I remember the shock people had at the store where I went to buy my very first television set. It was drama.
When I was remarrying, I saw drama. A friend of mine kept telling me that he did not understand how I as a blind man could manage to get such a pretty girl with dimples like Julie! Implications? I qualify for those who look less attractive. By the way I do not even believe that those thought to be less attractive are actually less attractive. It is their opinion. Then a pastor calls Julie and tells her that he would counsel her by herself because I did not need counseling myself. When we went to see the pastor who would then marry us and showed him our self-composed vows, Julie’s were shorter than mine. He made the remark, “Usually long vows indicate that someone has something to hide!” Should I say more? I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
Fast-forward again to the recent past. About two years ago, the Public Service board of Uasin-Gishu County advertised for a position on their Agriculture and Mechanization board which needed to be filled by a person living with disability. Because of my gubernatorial interests before, I had got a lot of acquaintance with Agricultural and mechanization matters and quite a bit of experience from my media days in matters to do with human resource management. I went for the interview and, according to some of those who interviewed me, I actually did exceptionally well. Believe you me, to this day, I have never ever heard from Uasin-Gishu county about this; not even if I flopped.
I recall too, running a coffee house at Zion Mall in Eldoret. My café was broken into three times and, with all the CCTV cameras and guards at the mall, to this day, nobody has ever been apprehended, not to mention that at the point of leaving the premises, out of sheer frustration, I came to learn that my competitor at the mall was being charged almost half of what I was asked to pay in rent. What can one say? Why was that the case?
Then in 2014 I visited Hon Mandago at his office and shared with him my proposal to expand my small music school in Eldoret so that I could serve more Uasin-Gishu youth with music and performing arts skills including trying to get street children off the street by teaching some of them how to play music instruments. He was excited and even said he would bring his own child to train. He indicated that they would do something small by the end of that financial year. I have waited since 2014 till now, 2019. I have not stopped doing the little I can. But it showed me how valuable I was in a county that continues to allocate money year after year for projects. I quietly learned that this was Kenya for me.
I am sharing this, not to embarrass or offend anyone, but to call for a turn around. After shutting down Fish FM in 2015, it was hard for me to go back to radio again. Indeed I never knew I would desire to be involved again. Although I had the experience of fifteen years then, nineteen now, in broadcasting, nine of those years running a station whose license took six years to get, I saw an advert at a Christian radio station where they needed a Manager. I applied. They acknowledged receipt of my application, but to this day, I have never heard from them; not even a regret. When I moved to Nairobi recently for studies, I asked for a part-time radio presenter position. They asked for my papers and indicated I was qualified and needed. That was the end. I emailed! I texted! I called! Nobody would answer my emails. Nobody would pick my calls. Nobody would respond to my texts. With my country Music experience, I have applied to several Nairobi stations wanting to do for them a Sunday evening Country show. My applications are received and that is the end. Never mind that besides KBC, I was the next person in Kenyan radio to introduce country music, and that on Christian stations, beginning with Family FM back in 2001. I have been ignored, even though, I think I am the first blind man in the world to start a radio station and run it for that long. My MSc in Journalism and Media Studies does not mean much any time I mention it in interviews.
My most recent radio attempt experience came after a gentleman travelled all the way from Thika to Eldoret to slash his girlfriend to death. I contacted one of our big stations requesting to do a family talk show at night to help address the rising homicides and relationship challenges. They asked me to send in a proposal and concept. I did. That was the end. The boss of the station would not receive my calls. He would not respond to my texts. In short I was ignored. …
Several years ago, as a musician and producer, I developed some exceptional jingles for Radio Citizen. They just received them and then went quiet. Forever. Everybody around me thinks they are great. Not them. This is not an audio platform. I would have posted them here for every one of you to judge. Never mind that I did some jingles for the station when they were starting about twenty years ago, and despite using them for several years, I never received a single cent from Royal Media. I have talked to staff at the Standard Group asking for the same position for the talk show. The response is the same.
Let’s return to academic institutions. I prepared courses for a Christian University in Nairobi last year for the launch of their M.A. in Apologetics degree. I developed ten courses in general in a booklet of about 40 pages. It was received and then they went quiet. I know many of you already know I was supposed to be teaching this semester at a different university from the one I have just mentioned – St Paul’s. I interviewed for the job and then the university went quiet after allocating me courses. This is in spite of following up.
Let me close for now by sharing about trying to reach our leaders in government. I guess it is possible for everyone else except me. When preparing to have the first fundraiser for our ministry bus last December, I asked a friend of mine who works with one of the County Governments to request the Deputy President, His Excellency William Ruto, to kindly consider being our chief guest. He said he would request him, they are friends. He then just vanished, would not answer my calls anymore and would not return my texts. He then called and suggested we try and get Mama Rachel. I got excited because Mama Rachel has been to our home, their daughter and my daughters went to the same school. Mama Rachel used to be my travel agent at one point. So I got excited. That was the end. When I finally got the urge to just pick up my phone and call her myself, of course, there was no answer. I texted. No answer. I called a few days later and a lady picks the phone and when I introduced myself she said it was not Mama Rachel’s number and they did not know who I was. I checked with mutual friends if I had the wrong number. They confirmed it was the correct number. I left it. … Twice when singing at State House, the president has indicated he would want me to visit. I then took the liberty to write and request him to be our guest. My letters reached but that was the end.
I have been swindled by several people in this country. I take the matters to lawyers and they say they can help. That is usually the end. I have been in the music ministry for 32 years, but still had to buy my car through a loan. I just had to abandon the fight for my millions of shillings literally squandered by the Music copyright Society of Kenya whose directors now wallow in untold riches as I struggle just to raise enough to go to school, again because organizations such as the National Council of Persons With disability will not hear a thing about helping with funding my education. Not the master’s programme and now not the Ph.D. programme. I struggle so hard in a country where Safaricom makes millions from my music but pays me peanuts after sharing more of my money with go-between groups that will not even give statements for the monthly incomes. The bosses at PRISK and KAMP eat a lot of my sweat every month as I slowly slide into my old age. …
Perhaps the saddest of all my struggles as a blind man in Kenya is with the Church. Let me write it here so that nobody will say they do not know. I go to minister at a Mombasa church for two days about two years ago and I am given an honorarium of kshs15000. In the last meeting, it is announced that the next week one of the musicians I will leave unnamed, from Nairobi, will be at the Church – for an afternoon – and that the church should help raise one hundred thousand shillings for her. I know churches in Nairobi by name that are prepared to pay Tanzanian musicians kshs200,000 or kshs300,000 for a concert, and the musicians will come and sing over a Cd, merely showing their faces, but when I come to minister with a team of 25 or 30 people, I am given twenty thousand Kenya shillings for my fuel to and from Eldoret and for the transportation of the rest of the team. When one raises the question why such affluent churches do this to me and not to the other musicians, I am told I am becoming money-minded. That is not true. The difference is, the others are not blind and I am. Blind people are paid little, you see! Or shall we just say, the other musicians look better than me! Or not?
I will not even go into churches in Nairobi telling me to the face that they do not charge for concerts and we even have to talk for long about the permission to take an offering to help us with expenses, after we have made the concerts free for everyone. … Again, I am not sure whether I am in the body or out of the body. God knows.
One day, most of these who avoid me now, will hear I have died. Then they will rush to form WhatsApp groups to raise money for themselves, say I used to write good songs or even buy me a nice coffin that looks good on cameras so that it can be said they honoured me and gave me a good send-off. If I do go before any of you, please save your monies. There will be plenty to eat from my music and books, anyway, after I am gone with nobody to stop you.
In other words, that is Kenya for me. That is the Kenya that ignores me while thinking I have so much that nobody should care to do what is right for me. This is the Kenya that says it enjoys my music and even uses it on public holidays at stadia as the Police or Army bands play song after song. This is the country with organization after organization, budget after budget that would make a big difference, but alas! This is the nation with so many opportunities that are thrown at you every day, but you never touch a single one. We have to fight tooth and claw looking only to God as resources are stolen every day. Sometimes it is tempting to just leave the country for those who deserve it more than me! Forgive me for such a long post. I have left enough out and just pledge that I will not bother you on this topic again. … It is enough what has been done to me. Please don’t do it to others living with any disability!

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to celebrate Uhuru in 2019: Author Mugambi M. Paul.

Why the Kenyan Disability sector is yet to CELEBRATE Uhuru in 2019:
Author Mugambi M. Paul.

The third eye on Disability policy implementation in Kenya 2019
In recent past, Kenya has been a global leader in developing and advocating for better disability policy framework. This is well articulated on the contributions made to the African disability policy framework, UNCRPD resolutions etc
Yet much is to be achieved in local policy development and implementation.
background:

In a chronology of events demonstrates that it has not been an easy ride for Kenyans with disabilities.
This is because the enactment of the
persons with disability act 2003 took place after the 3rd president was involved in a grisly road accident and took oath of office on a wheelchair.
Furthermore, the Kenyan disability policy has ever remained in draft formats.

All these indicators show It has been a tumultuous journey to have a repeal of the act or even actually develop a strategy of ensuring the realization of the rights of disabled persons in Kenya.

Actually, more than 20 versions of the amendment bills have been put across for the last 14 years.
This is not to say some sort of change has not taken place though it’s a snail pace.
, some piecemeal amendments have been achieved.
For instance, the sign language recognition.
With this notwithstanding, several questions policy makers have to ask themselves.
Who will actualize the implementation of beautiful disability global policies in Kenya?
When will persons with disabilities in Kenya receive and access services without overburdening them? when will the Wanjiku with disabilities stop facing surmountable of challenges in accessing services?

Short term reforms
Some of the actions taken after advocacy include:
Development of
action plan on accessibility 2015
gazettement of adjustment orders, participation on Kenya report on the implementation of UNCRPD 2015etc.
Additionally, in 2018 the ministry of labour has an interagency implementation of the resolution of the global summit held in London 2018

All these actions by the different policy makers are aimed at creating a more inclusive society that enables Kenyans with disability to fulfil their potential as equal citizens.
It is also the main way Kenya implements the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in Kenya, making sure people with disability can participate in all areas of Kenyan life.
As a public scholar I suggest the interagency organ of the ministry of labour develops a strategy which can address the existing gaps for policy implementation and enactment of 2020 disability act. It will be a great relive for many persons with disabilities.
If the interagency is offered the necessary resources and support, it can have development of a long-term strategic plan which can become a shared commitment by national and county government to work together to improve the lives of Kenyans with disability.
The interagency can guide governments and
other organisations to build the wellbeing of people with disability and their care givers.
Through this process the Ministry of labour and parliamentary committee can ensure the budgeting processes are disability inclusive.

There has been a lot of change to disability policy and service delivery since the enactment of 2003 act.
Some findings from disability researchers, bloggers and experience faced by persons with disabilities have established that the current act has lots of gravy areas.
This is because of systemic failures, lack of execution and resource allocation.
It’s prudent that ministry of labour and the stakeholders bite the bull by its horn by coming up with a long term 10-year disability strategy for Kenya which can be reviewed after five years.

Consequently, we need to make sure a new strategy reflects the changing policy environment and builds on opportunities available today as well as what may emerge over
the next decade, this includes considering the findings from KNCr reports the recent UNCRpd reports,
.
Public participation

constitutionally speaking the parliamentary committee, the ministry of labour should adopt public participation models which will enable persons with disabilities to contribute to the new strategies as a way forward.

This will ensure Consultation people with disability are at the centre of the design of the new strategy and have a leading role in modernising policies and
programs affecting their lives.
The needs to be a clear timeline of the consultation.
The policy makers need to adopt range of options available to ensure that persons with disabilities to have a say.
Importantly, all consultation should be accessible to people will disability.
This can be through the following:

list of 3 items
• an open public survey
Since some part of the population are able to access internet and more so the social media.

• face-to-face community workshops in every county
Media awareness.
• and online forum
The ministry of labour and the stakeholders should ensure that at all times.
The Consultations should be accessible.
This is by ensuring when registering persons with disabilities
provide details of any adjustments or special requirements they might need
key responsibilities:

Obviously, nominated parliamentarians with disabilities need to rise to the occasion and speak with one voice.
Its high time they realized disability is a cross cutting issue and doesn’t know the party lines.
They need to be accountable to persons with disabilities. At all cost.
The parliamentarians with disabilities need to think outside the box and develop bills targeting different aspects on disability not just targeting the reappeal of the 2003 persons with disabilities. For example, enactment of a carers act, braille and access to adaptive technology act, mental health act etc
We have evidently not seen the top law makers with disabilities drumming support for Legislation and policies underpinned by data disaggregated by disability which can make a difference by promoting meaningful
leadership, and consistently challenging harmful attitudes and practices.
.
For instance, the much hyped Huduma number and the upcoming census.
As policy expert I also orate that the disability persons organization are not playing their rightful role efficiently.
This is to say that an alternative view for better advocacy needs to be realized.
This is through continues research, surveys and serious consultations among membership.
Its true that most disability persons organizations have restricted themselves to Urban townships when consulting with out reaching out to the rural remote areas where even basic service to a Kenyan with disability are situated.
e
Conclusion

I believe that its high time the disability persons organization developed a serious advocacy framework with all organizations that care about the human rights and wellbeing of people with disability.
The human rights bodies and agencies need to be speaking up about the broader systemic issues that
need to be confronted, to ensure that people with a disability can have a good life.
going forward, it is not just the responsibility of the disability sector to make sure people with disability were included in the
community.
as Richardson a disability advocate says,
“This is about whole of community, and whole of government working through how best to include and embrace people with disability in all aspects of life,”

The views expressed here are for the author and do not represent any agency or organization. Mugambi Paul is a public policy and diversity and inclusion expert.