Running start laudable but big work lies ahead

Running start laudable but big work lies ahead

The August 9 presidential election lived up to expectations by producing probably the most fiercely contested poll in the history of Kenya, with the William Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza coalition taking victory. 

Most politicians know all too well that to win an election you must campaign in poetry. Governing is,  however, a whole different ball game. And this is probably the greatest test president Ruto will face in his illustrious political career. Reconciling his campaign promises with real tangible deliverables in a harsh economic environment will be hard. He has promised so much in times and moments of extreme scarcity. Did Kenya Kwanza (KK) bite more than they can chew? 

Ruto’s many critics also believe that he unfairly and unreasonably targeted his former boss, Uhuru Kenyatta, for anything and everything that went wrong within the Jubilee government. 

Positive signs

Weeks into the new administration, there are positive signs of goodwill and commitment. President Ruto must be commended for appointing the six judges who were shortchanged by his predecessor. This is a big win for constitutional order and the rule of law. Agricultural subsidies must be encouraged because they are backed by sound economic logic. Nearly all economic sectors have a strong link to the agricultural sector and abandoning farmers would invite death to the entire economy. Every serious economy runs programs to cushion its farmers against external economic shocks. The announcement of fertilizer subsidy is therefore a sound policy directive. 

But Kenyans yearn for more. They are waiting for the Sh50 billion a year hustler fund to provide MSMEs with 100 percent access to affordable finance. Kenyans are waiting for 250,000 new housing units per year. They are waiting for the growth of mortgages from the measly 30,000 that is obtaining currently to 1,000,000. They are also waiting for NHIF coverage for all. We can’t wait for the promised 100,000km of national fibre optic connectivity network in the next five years. 

Kenyans will hold the new government accountable for the promised turn-around strategy for Kenya Airways within six months. We are looking forward to the promised 5 million acres (20,000 km2) of agroforestry woodlots in drylands.  

Teacher shortage

Kenya Kwanza has further promised to bridge the current teacher shortage gap of 116,000 within two financial years. We are keenly watching to see if this will happen within the schedule. University and tertiary students can’t wait to see the promised National Skill and Funding Council that amalgamates HELB, TVET and University Funding Board come to fruition, even as the funding is increased to bridge the current 45 per cent gap.

The women of Kenya are eager for the 50 per cent cabinet positions for women promised in the manifesto. In fact, this promise is the easiest of them all in terms of implementation. It is a low-hanging fruit that requires only goodwill. But this promise shall also serve as the acid test of commitment to the KK manifesto. Furthermore, women expect nothing less than the promised free sanitary towels in all schools and public washrooms. Kenyans also expect 100 per cent NHIF coverage for People with Disabilities within 18 months as promised. 

Strengthen governance

Finally, the government must not forget its promise to strengthen governance and the rule of law. KK promised, among other things, to finance the independent institutions and enhance their technical capacity; adopt human rights approach in the war on terror; enhance the independence of EACC and the police to end their reliance on the Office of the President; entrench the independence of the Judiciary by operationalizing the Judiciary Fund; appoint all judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) to the Court of Appeal within seven days; establish a quasi-judicial public inquiry into state capture; transfer all devolved functions to counties, and transfer shareable revenue to counties in a timely manner. 

Kenyans shall watch with keen interest to see whether the new adminstration lives up to its billing, shall hold it accountable for each one of these promises.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign Up