Does Kenya's 'Digital Duo' Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto Deserve a 2nd Term?

2017 is nine months away and Kenyans were just named the happiest people in East Africa in a survey that included a metric assessing "freedom from corruption in government and business"!
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Political and communications consultant Machel Waikenda wrote the rather interesting Why Uhuru Kenyatta Deserves a 2nd Term as President piece that opened with the patently exculpatory line "No president in history has been able to complete 100 per cent of all his or her pre-election or manifesto pledges."

Mr. Waikenda then made an even stranger pivot by trying to hitch Mr. Kenyatta's re-election wagon onto the sun-setting and arguably successful 2 terms of US President Barack Obama; an "example of a politician who is extremely popular here in Kenya....."

This is not the first time some Kenyan "analyst", "consultant", blog or media outfit has compared Kenya's 4th president to America's 44th president.

At best, the comparisons are interesting attempts to syncopate the trajectories of the lives of the two baby-boomers who rose to become the president of their respective country. At worst, the comparisons are misleading and desperate attempts to burnish the credentials of the former crimes-against-humanity suspect AND leader of a country recently crowned as the world's 3rd most corrupt.

The lives of Uhuru Kenyatta and Barack Obama could not be any more diametric from one another's. Their similarities end with the year of their births - 1961 - and their positions - presidents. Beyond that and the fact that they are both left-handed and share other banal and inconsequential "inside baseball" similarities, the two men are poles apart.

Back to Mr. Waikenda's plea for a 2nd Kenyatta term and underscored by a point as elemental as it gets: The primary role of any president is keeping their country safe and secure.

On this score alone, President Uhuru Kenyatta DOES NOT deserve a 2nd term. His handling of the multiple attacks on Kenyans since he took office has demonstrated a shocking level of incompetence and seeming indifference that no fair-minded Kenyan should tolerate or reward with a 2nd term in office. President Kenyatta continued the tradition of politicizing the country's security agencies and the citizens paid dearly. It took multiple attacks by extremists including the carnage at Garissa University for the Commander-in-Chief to make changes to his national security team.

The absence of a safe and secure environment has forced Kenyans to spend more time worrying about attacks by al-Shabaab extremists than enjoying access to the electric grid -- one of Mr. Kenyatta's achievements that is deserving of a 2nd term -- according to Mr. Waikenda. Insecurity during Mr. Kenyatta's 1st term has impacted and will continue to impact economic progress and the quality of life in Kenya for the foreseeable future; a fact conveniently omitted by the political and communications consultant.

Also missing from the list of Mr. Kenyatta's accomplishment during his 1st term is yet another basic component of (successful) governance and economic development:

Mitigation or elimination of rampant corruption, waste and abuse of national resources.

During their respective visits to Kenya, both President Obama and His Holiness Pope Francis expressed alarm at the level of official corruption in the country. The man being hoisted for a 2nd term not only asked the Pontiff to "pray for him to win the war against corruption", Mr. Kenyatta took to calling out the thieving and callous ways of his subjects while visiting a foreign country -- Israel! Official corruption in Kenya under Mr. Kenyatta has become so rampant that his many public condemnations of the scourge, including those occurring in his own Office of the President, are nowadays met with a mixture of "hakuna matataism" (outright indifference) and incredulity bordering on absolute anger.

Unlike Barack Obama who took over a country in economic free-fall and promises of absolute and unbridled obstructionism by the Republicans, Uhuru Kenyatta took over a country that, while still reeling from post-election violence, had infrastructure and economic projects already underway thanks to the departing coalition government. Additionally, the specter of the International Criminal Court (ICC) hanging over both Mr. Kenyatta and his Deputy Mr. Ruto served as a deterrent against the fanning of ethnic flames and infidelity to the new constitution.

With Mr. Kenyatta's crimes-against-humanity charges suspended due to insufficient evidence and charges against Mr. Ruto on life-support, it was just a matter of time before the co-accused reverted to status ante: Hubris in the face of rampant insecurity and violent crimes; stark and tone-deaf regionalism in appointments to ministerial and parastatal positions -- the prerogative of the victor -- and something wholly unexpected from a man whose "enemies and not a corrupt....." -- repeated and blatant theft and/or abuse of funds from the national coffers by those closest to him.

Does the digital duo deserve a 2nd term?

2017 is nine months away and Kenyans were just named the happiest people in East Africa in a survey that included a metric assessing "freedom from corruption in government and business"!

Will the joke be on them -- again -- or will they eschew worrying and continue to be happy?

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