January 23rd 2018

Opinion / Commentaries

Jubilee Party’s new promises are sad reminders of the failure of last five years

It further goes on to say, the savings will be applied to enhance the country’s productive potential and offset its national debt burden.

By Athanas Kipchumbaakipchumba@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 27 Jun 2017 16:46 EAT

President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto during the launch of Jubilee Party's manifesto at at Kasarani indoor arena in Niaorbi yesterday

In the predictably colourful and illustrious launching of its high-sounding manifesto, the ruling coalition has exhibited to Kenyans why it thinks it should be re-elected in August. However, what struck me like a thunderbolt has something to do with economic performance, especially within the period spanning four years or so.That is, since Jubilee ascended to the country’s pinnacle of power.

Well, the narratives which the president and his wily deputy are feeding us on don’t add up. They promise heaven when the wisdom of the occasion demands that you are headed for the purgatory. The air you’re breathing reeks of badly managed economy whose lagging indicators stand to vehemently oppose the colorful UhuRuto’s narratives hinging on the promise of- and boasting of healthy economy.

I expected the Jubilee’s signature talk of ‘Double Digit Economic Growth’ that never was. Mr William Ruto who’s been talking oftentimes about the aforesaid ‘popular’ economic phrase, has fascinatingly avoided the catchy phrase like a mysterious plague. I immediately thought [he] Ruto forgot the phrase. Until some couple of minutes later when it dawned on me that the shrewd DP swam on the crest of the wave by shirking that phrase away.

It’s clear in the manifesto that Jubilee dodged giving economic growth target despite pledging to set up ‘broad-based inclusive and modern economy.’ Jubilee government says it will sharply reduce and eliminate wastage in the utilization of public resources to generate one trillion shillings in savings over five years. It further goes on to say, the savings will be applied to enhance the country’s productive potential and offset its national debt burden.

“A growing economy must work for all Kenyan citizens. We will continue to build a middle-income society for the benefit of all. We will work towards high, rapid and inclusive economic growth to create wealth and reduce inequalities and thus improve the lives of all Kenyans,” said President Uhuru Kenyatta during the launching of Jubilee’s manifesto.

In the manifesto, President Uhuru says Jubilee administration will reduce the cost of living for wanachi by stabilizing the cost of food, energy and transport. Interesting. The president’s mention of the word[s] “cost of living” jerked people into attention, though ephemerally; sending clear signal that the head of state must have touched a raw nerve. Sensitive nerve because Kenyans beyond the tribal identity, religious inclinations, political leanings and other considerations are groaning under the weight of high cost of living. With the cost of living standing aloft, UhuRuto comprehends that the economy is ill. Or unhealthy. This can’t be gainsaid, I think.

As opposed to 2013, this year Jubilee has avoided to be pinned down by a specific figure. “Kenya’s economic growth over the last four years has been resilient and robust, reaching a high of 5.8 per cent in 2016 and exceeding the African average of 1.5 per cent,” read part of the manifesto, as seen by this writer.

The World Bank anticipates the Kenya’s economy to grow by 5.5 per cent in 2017. Based on the Tradingeconomics.com, the GDP annual growth rate in Kenya averaged at 5.46 per cent from 2004 until 2016, reaching an all-time high of 12.40 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2010 and a record low of 0.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2008.

According to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya’s economic growth in 2016 registered scaled up positively at the rate of +6.28 per cent. A signal that the economic resilience was remarkable until this year [2017] when the country’s economic growth stands at 5.3 per cent, reflecting a change of -12.51 per cent! If in doubt, ask yourself honestly why the economic blithe of our country currently is sodden with revealing signals of unhealthy economy.

For instance, the rate of the youth unemployment currently averages 39.1 per cent, according to United Nation’s Human Development Index [HDI], thus making Kenya come atop other countries within East Africa region. What the chilling realities! Am sure this sounds cacophonous rather than melodious to your ears.

Yes, am just talking economics because we live in it. Companies are continuously reducing wages and or at worst, laying off people [read employees] massively. Many people cannot pay up for their monthly bills and whatnot. This highlights the fact that our economy is sick. I don’t have even to talk of high cost of maize flour, sugar and milk because I will be repeating myself, bearing in mind that ‘too much of something is poisonous.’

Jubilee tells us that in the first term a total of Sh25 billion has been transferred to medium and small enterprises through Youth, Uwezo and Women enterprise funds, in accordance with the summary of its manifesto. This, it says has backed up close to fifteen million people who have been enabled to set up businesses and provide their families as a result. Whether this is true or false remains anyone’s task to find it out.

Honestly speaking, it’s all and sundry’s delight to listen to his president or any other leader worth our attention. But what most Kenyans find more sickening and revolting is the leaders’ proclivity to self-contradict and arrogantly dish out lies to their attentive and economically hamstrung subjects.

The governed folks are in constant prayers and supplications to the Almighty Father for their leaders to reverse the unforgiving economic woes that are mostly brought about by poor governance. Sadly though, the leaders dash their hopes even to the remotest corner of the planet by lying to them openly. This amounts to adding insult to injury, doesn’t it? It could be better if Jubilee told us the ‘harsh truths’ and promise to address our economic miseries, without dithering.

Do they know that the level of literacy in this country has gone up hundred-fold as opposed to what happened at the dawn of one-party state era? Post multi-party epoch electorates are more enlightened and intelligent, so they are pretty much aware of the lagging and leading indicators of economic growth. The situation now is brimful of the lagging economic indicators. Meaning Jubilee’s pledge of ‘economic Heaven’ will be taken with a pinch of salt.

Only a person from the alternative universe will believe in UhuRuto’s tall promises of “making our economy grow with marked vibrancy.” The ‘dynamic duo’- to borrow from our retired president, Mr Mwai Kibaki, have been widely known for talking big and doing small. Because they have to talk matters economy, let’s give them our ears, shortly. But we shouldn’t forget making Solomonic judgments and well-calculated decisions. I must admit that UhuRuto really knows how to sugar bitter economic pills, going by the enthusiastic raptures that graced their speeches on matters economy at Kasarani stadium.

Kipchumba is a staff writer/columnist at the Kenya Free Press

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