Opinions & Features November 13, 2021 at 12:00 pm

President Kenyatta and his Deputy must drop their face-off to create a prosperous Kenya

FACE2FACE AFRICA November 13, 2021 at 12:00 pm

November 13, 2021 at 12:00 pm | Opinions & Features

Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta attends the annual tech conference "Inno Generation" in Paris, Oct. 1, 2020. Credit: Gonzalo Fuentes/Pool via AP/File photo

A day after a section of clergy urged President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Dr. Ruto, to mend fences and reconcile, the deputy president said he was ready and willing to do so unconditionally. However, this is yet to happen. Whether or not the president and the deputy president make amends, the critical focus should be on finding a means to keep the promises they made to Kenyans in their 2017 Jubilee manifesto.

It is a betrayal of Kenyans who voted based on promises contained in the Jubilee party manifesto, only to be met with justifications for the promises not kept. The main excuse is that the president has not been working with his deputy but with the opposition leader, Raila Odinga, following a handshake.

The president and his deputy are setting a bad precedent by failing to deliver on most of their promises. Other politicians, especially those running for president, are making more ambitious promises ahead of the 2022 general election. Citizens need practical solutions on issues that bedevil them, such as the high unemployment rate.

If elected in 2022, Dr. Ruto promises to liberate Kenyans economically through a bottom-up strategy. On the other hand, if elected, Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, has also offered unemployed Kenyans a monthly cash transfer of Kshs. 6,000 ($53). But why are they doing nothing now through their connections to the government? 

In addition, while progress has been made in road infrastructure development, such as the construction of the Nairobi Expressway, the government has yet to implement the transformations indicated in The Big Four Agenda, a summary of Jubilee commitments made in 2017. This shows that the situation of the nation is beyond dramatic moves being played by the parties concerned. The presidency should address issues affecting Kenyans directly.

One of the big four agendas is Universal Health Care (UHC) which remains an ambitious project. The idea is to have 100 percent UHC by scaling up National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) uptake. Currently, only 24 percent of Kenyans are enrolled in the scheme. The government should do more awareness to increase uptake and pay for those at the bottom of the pyramid who are not in a position to afford the monthly remittances.

According to a World Bank economic update on Kenya, slightly over half a million Kenyans gained employment in total between 2015 and 2019, but the move to more productive industries has slowed in the last five years. Overall, GDP growth fell in 2020, from 5.3 percent in 2019 to -0.3 percent in 2020. Hence, the government must implement policies that will lead to economic recovery to achieve the ambitious Jubilee’s anticipated growth of 20 percent by 2022.

Another failed promise is the Galana-Kulalu project which did not amount to much. Currently, Mwea irrigation scheme, which provides 80 percent of Kenya’s rice needs, is facing a water shortage that would affect rice production. More so, the affordable housing plan remains a worthy promise as only 2235 houses have been completed four years after Jubilee set a goal of 500,000 houses.  

Though the Jubilee government intended to fight corruption, there is no significant effort, policy intervention, and goodwill to fight and win the war against corruption. According to the president, crooked government officials steal about Kshs. 2 billion per day.

Adopting more robust policies to address the nation’s enormous debt, developing economic recovery strategies, and closing corruption loopholes would be a good start toward restoring President Uhuru Kenyatta’s and the Jubilee government’s legacy.

If the Kshs. 2 billion that is being looted every day could be preserved, it would be useful in supporting local manufacturing that would, in turn, create more jobs, pay for health insurance cover for the poor and the unemployed, or be deployed to development of infrastructure.

The president and the deputy president must set aside their disagreements, embrace each other and work towards realizing most of the big four agendas. Kenyans are unconcerned whether the opposition leader is participating or not, provided as long as they receive prompt service.

There are several months left before the next general election to fulfill the Jubilee government’s electoral promises from 2017. This is a call on President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto to reconcile and work for Kenyans as promised!

Jamlick Kogi is a writing fellow at the African Liberty.

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