2017 is just under two weeks old and with Kenya's presidential elections scheduled for sometimes during the year, I decided to forgo the customary year-in-review write-up and review the performance of the incumbent Jubilee Coalition against its stated campaign promises. To write the review, I pulled out a copy of the coalition's "Harmonized Coalition Manifesto" loftily titled "Transforming Kenya: Securing Kenya's Prosperity 2013-2017".
Each of the four (4) coalition partners offered their take on Jubilee's vision for the divided and violence- & corruption-weary country.
Mr. Uhuru Kenyatta offered to "unleash the energy, dynamism and strength of the Kenyan people." Mr. William Ruto promised to "deliver change in the key areas which represent the (country's) core ideals....." Ms. Charity Ngilu, the sole woman in the quartet was confident that the coalition would offer "new solutions" that "address many of the wrongs in (Kenya)". Finally, Mr. Najib Balala, cognizant of the insecurity plaguing the country committed "bold leadership and bold decisions" to address the "insecurity.....and porous borders".
Summarized, Jubilee Coalition offered a platform that promised to:
- Put food and clean water on every Kenyan table - Ensure that every child in Kenya gets quality education - Create wealth - Ensure that every Kenyan gets quality and affordable healthcare - Empower Kenyan women to take their rightful place in developing this country - Keep Kenya safe and secure both internally and externally - Develop a cogent foreign relations and trade policy for Kenya
Reviewed against the last four years, only the most partisan toady can conclude that Jubilee has delivered on its campaign promises. In a survey conducted by the much-maligned polling firm IPSOS Research, Kenyans listed hunger, corruption and the high cost of living as their main concerns.
On the promises to (a) "put food and clean water on every Kenyans table", (b) "keep Kenya safe and secure", and (c) "create wealth", a plurality of Kenyans surveyed concluded that the ruling party had not delivered.
Additionally, using the persistent scandals that have plagued Kenya's institutions of learning as benchmarks, it is not unreasonable to conclude that Jubilee has failed to deliver on its assurance "that every child in Kenya (will) get quality education". The failure to deliver on this pledge also illustrated every ism that continues to define Jubilee's time in office: gross corruption, utter incompetence and wanton violence and destruction of property.
Jubilee's pledge to "(E)nsure that every Kenyan gets quality and affordable healthcare" would be laughable if it did not directly impact lives. Former President Mwai Kibaki's trip to South Africa for "specialized treatment" and the many reports of Kenyans stuck in foreign countries because they cannot pay for medical services already rendered say it all:
Jubilee has not delivered on said pledge.
Again unsurprising, efforts at providing healthcare were engulfed in gross malfeasance this time implicating the president's immediate family!
One would be hard-pressed to argue that women took "their rightful place" in developing Kenya given Gov. Kidero's assault on Ms. Rachel Shebesh and the delayed action against crooner Koffi Olomide's bone-headed caught-on-camera attack on one of his dancers. Kenyans also ho-hummed Moses Kuria's vile threat against Mbita MP Millicent Odhiambo (who reportedly received a Christmas card from the president -- in a contrived attempt to "go high" ostensibly because his sycophant Mr. Kuria and Ms. Odhiambo had both "gone low"). Mr. Kenyatta conveniently forgot his repeatedly less-than-high characterization of his opponents throughout his time in office. The country also witnessed the sexist personal attacks on former Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru and Miguna Miguna's racist rants against Esther Passaris (with host Jeff Koinange's tacit acquiescence).
In the one bright spot for Jubilee, I'd offer that Kenya developed "cogent foreign relations and trade policy" albeit at a price. Besides successfully rallying the African Union (AU) to save Mr. Kenyatta and Mr. Ruto in their crimes-against-humanity cases at The Hague, the highlight of Jubilee's 1st term saw outgoing American President and part-Kenyan Luo Barack Obama bring the full prestige and might of the American Presidency to Kenya.
Mr. Obama's visit was followed by that of the equally popular global icon Pope Francis. The country also hosted a series of high profile international gatherings including the Tokyo International Conference of African Development (TICAD). A while back I offered that President Obama (had) prematurely lauded Mr. Kenyatta's "war against corruption": My perspective was lent credence by none other than Pope Francis who called out the rot that is land-grabbing and the sugary taste of gains ill-gotten through the endemic corruption. The high-profile visits allowed the global press to shine a spotlight on Kenya and literally and figuratively reveal where the bodies are!
Jubilee oversaw continuation of projects such as the uber expensive Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) Project -- set in motion BEFORE they came into office. The self-titled "digital duo" also oversaw expansion of the electrification of primary schools and villages not to mention the tarmacking of roads across Kenya. These mega-projects required massive infusions of cash the country had to borrow from her newest best friend China and through floatation of the Eurobond. Like clockwork, appropriation of funds from the latter (Eurobond) mutated into yet another scandal implicating the party stalwarts.
The party's inability to stem corruption was first driven home when Mr. Kenyatta sought the services of the African Governance Initiative (AGI), a group headed by Jubilee's erstwhile whipping boy Mr. Tony Blair. The former British Prime Minister was brought in to oversee "delivery" of mega-projects such as SGR, Konza Technology City and the Lamu Port South Sudan and Ethiopia Transport corridor (LAPSSET) with minimal "eating of chicken". Jubilee's signature laptop-for-primary-schools campaign promise also became mired in fights between competing tenderpreneurs; in the process becoming one more symbol of the corruption that has characterized the Kenyatta Administration. It thus comes as no surprise that during their time in office, Mr. Kenyatta, his deputy Mr. Ruto and their families and friends have all been at the epicenter of one form of gross malfeasance or another.
Finally, between 2013 to 2015, Jubilee was a party unable to keep Kenyans safe and secure largely because of incompetent, ill-equipped, unprofessional and scandal-plagued law enforcement and security apparatus -- unsurprisingly led by corrupt and incompetent leadership. Not only was Mr. Kenyatta's government unable to hold accountable corrupt and incompetent security and law enforcement personnel, the president and his national security team seemed incapable of formulating a coherent strategy in response to the repeated attacks.
In reviewing President Kenyatta and DP Ruto's time in office beginning 2013, the following images crystallize that period:
1. Gruesome pictures of Garissa University students laying lifeless on the cement floor and that of little Portia Walton running towards Abdul Haji -- both after deadly attacks by al-Shabaab extremists. 2. A chastened presidential confidante and former CS Anne Waiguru, resigning after her self-characterization as a "whistleblower" in the NYS scandal, pardon the pun, blew up. 3. An indignant and defeated President Kenyatta passing the (corruption) buck to everyone except himself during a "summit" on -- corruption. 4. Two MPs announcing that they were headed to Germany to seek treatments for injuries sustained during a fight that erupted during parliamentary "debates"!
Strangely enough, and in a Stockholm Syndrome-like development, fifty per cent of the same Kenyans who cite "hunger, corruption and the high cost of living as their main concerns" would apparently re-elect the very people in power during their period of angst!