Top Stories / National
Tuesday, 27 Jun 2017 15:24 EATdkiraka@kenyafreepress.com
As the election date draws closer, the race to win the hearts of Kenyans continues to take shape as the Jubilee launched a detailed manifesto in their race for a second term. Opposition Super National Alliance (NASA) plans to launch its blue print today as the two groups fight to outwit each other during the August 8, General Elections.
During yesterday’s event at the Kasarani Sports Stadium Indoor arena, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto outlined their target in which they promised, among other things, the creation of 1.3 million jobs each year for the next five years, free primary healthcare for all Kenyans and the improvement of the jua kali sector into formal enterprises by 2022. Under the first pillar ‘Transforming lives’, health, the youth agenda and education were widely covered.
Jubilee has success in its 2013 manifesto with the advent of Huduma Centres throughout the 47 counties, which has seen the government transform public service. The decentralizing of the High Court has also helped make justice more accessible to many Kenyans while the laptops project, despite the flaws on its implementation, has been felt in some schools.
In the new manifesto, the Jubilee government promises free primary healthcare for all Kenyans as well as the expansion of the ‘Linda Mama’ programme, which seeks to provide health cover for expectant mothers through NHIF for a period of 12 months. There is also the revamped NHIF cover, which promises free treatment to all Kenyans above 70 years. This will go a long way in ensuring that the elderly are well taken care of. A noble cause. But that is as far as good news on health goes. While equipment and hospitals are important for any health facet to properly roll on, and the people’s medical needs are affordably met, the medical practitioners have been left behind. Currently, the nurses’ strike is ongoing and none of that was addressed in the manifesto.
While the policy is elaborate on how it will benefit the citizen, the doctors and nurses seem to be a speck of dust on a black surface. The lengthy doctors strike from December last year to March this year and the ongoing nurse’s strike point out that while the front of the health sector is beautiful and scented, that only shines over the real cracks that make Kenyan health sector uninspiring. Part of it has been equipment, of which Jubilee has seen an increase in a number, including dialysis, radiology and theatre equipment and a rise in ICU bed capacity in hospitals. The other challenging part is seeing to it that the people with the required skills set to manage these equipment are well catered for. Or else, the equipment will just become just a relic on the wall.
On education, the manifesto mentions the free laptop programme among its achievements but an important factor to note is that while the disbursement of the tablets top schools have been implemented, in parts anyway, the programme barley addresses the main deficiencies facing the Kenyan education scene; poor infrastructure and a curriculum that seems inclined to generating robots programmed to perform certain tasks rather than thinkers to provide solutions.
Among their achievements was the empowering of youth, a statement that has been on UhuRuto’s lips for the duration of their tenure. After all, they called themselves youthful and were in to usher the digital age. Clearly the youths were in their agenda as they seek to harness the youth power to take Kenya ‘to the next level’.
In their accomplishments according to the manifesto, they mentioned the expansion of the youth empowerment programme which lowered interest rates to loans given to youths so as to enable them improve their businesses. The increase in NYS recruitment does lend credence to the youth empowerment rhetoric but then, for close to two years of the five they have been in power, the murky NYS scandal negated any strides the government was making towards restoring the pride back to the faces of disenfranchised youths in the country.
The sad state of unemployment in Kenya has hit high levels in the recent past, with many graduates, after tarmacking for an unspecified number of years, resorted to using placards to advertise for jobs. In their 2013 manifesto, the duo promised to create over 500, 000 jobs a year. They failed in that regard but this did not stop them from pulling wool over our eyes with the promise of now 1.3 million jobs each year. Yet despite all this, a few billions of shillings was lost in a scam that threatened to derail an entire ministry. Such is a shame.
Learning from their mistake they made in the past with regards to sports and culture, the Jubilee administration did not issue wildly optimistic aspirations of building five sports stadia across the country over the next five years, a mission that has failed to take off. This time, they have promised a more realistic target of rehabilitation existing sports facility in Kisumu (Moi Stadium), Mombasa (Mombasa Municipal Stadium) and Eldoret (Kipchoge Keino Stadium) among many others in Kiambu, Makueni, Elgeyo Marakwet, Marsabit and Chuka.
Also revisited and scaled down was the promise to grow the Kenyan economy by double digits in the next five years. Rather than provide an exact figure as the target for the economic growth this time round, the Jubilee manifesto has instead, promised a broad based inclusive and modern economy which promises to lift Kenya into a middle class economy.
“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 citizens,” President Kenyatta said during the launch.
It should be noted however, the contradiction in that statement as currently, Kenyans are facing the burden of the very high cost of living. With prices of basic commodities shooting through the roof and nothing at all happening in terms of raising the purchasing power of the ordinary citizens, it remains a mockery of sorts and feels a little like an insult for the current administration to say, that it is working for all Kenyans. A study by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) found that 45.2 per cent of Kenyans are barely holding on, barely affording the minimum basic commodity. How then would a high cost of living, coupled with rising unemployment and a stagnation in purchasing power claim to be working for the 45.2 per cent?
While Kenya’s economy is perceived to be growing, this in no way reflects the stagnant poverty levels that are often experienced more severely in some parts of the country i.e. arid and semi-arid areas, places that remain marginalized by each administration every five years.
The fight against corruption has to be Jubilees biggest demons. Having had to deal with corruption scandals in key ministries in its administration, it is difficult for Jubilee to sell us on that front. The last five years have seen a glut supply of corruption scandals that could make the disgraces in the Moi administration seem like harmless pranks. From the NYS saga to the Afya House scandal and the Karen land fraud affair, it is apparent that perhaps the mechanism to prevent corruption have not been put in place. Does the outing of these scandals mean something about the administration’s willingness to fight the vice? Maybe. But whatever happens after that is what lends meat to the lean claims that an administration is fighting corruption.
None of the so called big fish in these corruption claims have been thoroughly investigated and prosecuted, while the money, stretching well into the billions and maybe beyond, has never been fully recovered. On corruption, prevention is better than fighting it after it has already happened. In that regard, the institutional reforms in the judiciary aimed at fighting corruption and the constitution of a Multi-Agency Team bringing together the likes of EACC, the office of the DCI and the ARA (Assets Recovery Agency) have so far only been growling. This country needs them to rally and roar.