The report observes that the 10 per cent richest households in Kenya control more than 42 per cent of incomes, while the poorest 10 per cent control 0.76 per cent of income. This means that while the top rich Kenyan earns about Sh56, the bottom poor earns Sh1.
This means the gains of economic growth under President Kibaki have largely failed to trickle down to low-income groups.
Far from focusing his energies on addressing the economic divide, Shikwati says Kibaki perfected a system that promotes “state capture” by a few elites to the exclusion of others.
“It is difficult to assume that Kibaki has or is investing to given Kenyans a society that respects pluralism away from the ever dangerous culture of ‘state capture’,” he says.
The one thing analysts agree on is that Kibaki is a hard driving haggler. “From day one in office, Kibaki has maintained the approach of bargaining for exchange of value for the dollar,” says Shikwati.
“If he went begging, it was only for strategic investment projects that will give returns to both Kenyans and the investors.”
Because of his steely stubbornness, Kenya was able to free herself, if only partially, from the yoke of donor dependence.
By 2007, the country was financing 95 per cent of the budget from local resources from a high of 12 per cent in 2002.
The explosion of China onto the scene was particularly relieving for Kibaki, who had roundly dismissed the West for frivolous donor conditionalities in the early days of reign.
The jury is out there on whether this shift to the East delivered value for money or he simply played into the hands of China’s charm offensive through the Forum for China Africa Cooperation.
Staying true to the politician that he is, Kibaki has also on various occasions played roulette with policy. In 2007, against all economic wisdom and caution, he sank Sh15 billion into Kazi Kwa Vijana as a stopgap to unemployment.
Of course the project, which collapsed with an estimated Sh6.6 billion missing, fell short of creating the 300,000 jobs initially targeted.
Even as he takes the homestretch, critics say Kibaki missed the singular opportunity of a lifetime to instil economic discipline in the country. “His failure to prosecute any economic crimes constitute the biggest blot on his legacy,” says Mati.
—Additional reporting by John Njiraini