1:Rev David Leting, Moderator of RCEA
2:Rev Canon Chris Kinyanjui General Secretary.
3:Bshp Dr John Okinda, head of PEFA and NCCK Vice Chairman
BY NJOKI KARANJA
The Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) has held a meeting at Jumuia Conference and Country Home, Limuru, over the last two days to transact statutory business and reflect on matters of national concern.
The meeting reflected on the centrality of justice and fairness in society, a reality that our fathers captured in the words of our National Anthem: “Justice be our shield and defender”.
Having considered the state of our nation, the following message was shared:
1. Control of religion
“We in NCCK share our heartfelt condolences with all the affected families following the Shakahola Holocaust. It is saddening for so many Kenyans to die yet the deaths could have been prevented. We demand accountability by the government for dereliction of duty
that led to the deaths of hundreds of people yet reports were made to relevant offices and agencies” Said Rev Kinyanjui, General Secretary.
Further, the NCCK is extremely concerned that the government seems determined to use the unfortunate Shakahola incident as an excuse to control the practice of religious freedom in the country. While we condemn the loss of lives occasioned by the activities of the Good News Church, we find that this was criminal action that was wholly facilitated by the failure of the criminal justice system to deliver on its mandate.
2. Let Us Live Within Our Means
The Executive Committee has taken time to review the 2023/2024 national budget and the attendant Finance Bill that were presented to the National Assembly by the government. We are extremely concerned that contrary to expectations, the budget does not explicitly present strategies to deliver Kenyans from the suffocating high cost of living.
It is our view that the budget proposals are likely to make the lives of Kenyans worse.
a) Living Beyond Our Means
Despite a projected revenue collection of KShs 2.6 trillion, the government has planned to spend KShs 3.7 trillion in the year. This is unfortunate as it means that the country intends to live beyond its means by borrowing locally and internationally without clear strategies
of how the funds to repay the loans will be raised. Our sincere expectation was that the government would cut down on expenditure to match the income.
b) Understated Expenditure
We do note that the projected expenditure of KShs 3.7 trillion does not include debt servicing, which is currently estimated to require upwards of KShs 1.63 trillion per year.
This implies that the country will have only KShs 970 billion to finance everything else. We reiterate our call for the government to engage the people in a genuine public discourse on debt management and taxation.
c) Wastage and Corruption
The NCCK remains cognizant that the greatest challenge facing the fiscal health of our nation is an unmitigated culture of wastage, fraud and impunity in government. We are thus concerned that the policy statements in the national budget and attendant laws do
not address this problem. We urge His Excellency the President to spearhead a national attitude transformation within the civil service to end the mentality that public resources are there to be wasted. This will enable us live within our means as a nation, and actually reverse the negative economic state we have been in for a long time.
- Food Security, the Grounding of Society
The NCCK recalls that before God created human beings, He first planted the Garden of Eden to ensure there would be adequate food for the people. It is therefore a major concern to us that 2023/2024 budget did not allocate adequate resources to turn around
the agriculture sector.
As the church, we are making every effort to support food security by promoting
Conservation Agriculture in all parts of the country, and urge the government and other partners to join us. Let us work to ensure that every Kenyan is food secure.
- Address Climate Change
The NCCK has taken time to review the progressive destructiveness of climate change across the globe. The prolonged dry spells followed by floods and unpredictable rains has devastated Kenyan households, leading to loss of lives and food insecurity.
We in NCCK find the tree planting initiative redemptive for the nation, and are committed to play our part. We will continue to plant trees in our church compounds and personal farms, in addition to passing messages to promote mitigation and adaptation to climate
Therefore, we will be planting trees in all NCCK events. We invite development partners and the government to support these initiatives.
In conclusion, we thank all Kenyans for the continued determination to live peaceably with each other. Let us fix our eyes on bettering our individual and corporate lives, being inspired by the words of our National Anthem:
Let all with one accord, in common bond united; Build this our nation together
And the glory of Kenya, the fruit of our labour, fill every heart with thanksgiving
And let us all endeavour to follow the instructions God has given us in Deuteronomy 16: 20
Follow justice and justice alone, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord your God is giving you.
May God enable us all to play our part in ensuring justice and peace for a better