|From left: Hassan Joho, Anyang Nyong’o, Ida Odinga and Wavinya Ndeti at KICC on Monday. [Photo: Eugene Mokua/Standard]|
By Peter Opiyo
The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) unveiled its ten-point pledges to the country to woo voters as the race to State House intensifies.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga unveiled the document he said contains the aspirations of Kenyans and vowed to honour it if elected. Forming the crux of the promises is creation of wealth and sharing of public funds equitably.
Implementation of the Constitution is also one of their key promises.
Raila pledged to create more jobs by establishing one major industry in each county and ensure 24-hour economy in major urban centres and remove trade barriers to instill investor confidence.
To realise the goal, CORD government would also give incentives to commercial banks and other financial institutions to finance industries.
“We shall create an enabling environment so that industries invest right up to the county level and spread employment opportunities,” said Raila.
He said the country produces about 800,000 working-age population every year yet only 50,000 jobs are created in the modern sector. This scenario, he said, requires about a million new jobs annually.
The alliance promised to invest at least 2.5 per cent of the annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in research and development and fast-track Special Economic Zones in major urban areas for job creation.
“The CORD government will lay the foundation to move within two decades from being a poor and dependent nation to being a productive and self-sustaining economy paving the way to jobs and dignified lives for all,” the 24-page document outlines.
The team, that also includes Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka and Trade Minister Moses Wetangula, has promised to ensure food security by subsidising farm inputs to ensure increased yield and invest in rural infrastructure to enable farmers access markets.
The team says it will re-introduce mini-weather stations in schools to assist in local monitoring of weather trends and patterns and invest in innovative irrigated agriculture to enhance the country’s food security.
It will also promote inland fishing areas, especially in areas around Lakes Victoria, Naivasha and Turkana by investing in hygienic landing bays, modern storage and processing facilities and efficient transport and communications infrastructure.
Free extension services would also be re-introduced in different branches of the agriculture sector to improve production.
Should Raila be elected as the fourth President, CORD promised to ensure security of all Kenyans by expanding national security structure and developing a strategy to strengthen response to terrorism and militia groups.
On ensuring national security, the leaders say they will fast-track police reforms and give officers the necessary training and equipment to provide security while at the same time giving Parliament and the courts an oversight role to check abuse of power by the police.
CORD would also expand the use of Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras as a security measure and create a Directorate of Criminal Investigation as a semi-autonomous agency delinked from national police command.
Raila and Kalonzo said CORD would further ensure they have a people-led government by protecting and implementing the new Constitution and ensuring Kenyans play a role in crafting laws.
The manifesto states this would be achieved by promoting public participation.
Additionally, the document unveiled at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), promises to tackle poverty and high cost of living and come up with a social assistance programme that would see those aged 65 and above get some monthly stipend.
It would achieve this by ensuring the annual inflation rate does not go beyond five per cent and also regulate foreign currency exchange rates to curb price increases of imported consumer goods.
“CORD government will develop policies to reduce poverty levels from the current 46 per cent to less than nine per cent in 2030,” outlines the manifesto. It points out that there will be social protection to cushion the very poor, the disabled and the marginalised from harsh economic times.
Consequently, a pension scheme for those aged 65 and above would be created and tax policies reviewed for redistribution of income and wealth, by focusing on counties with limited capacity.
“CORD’s agenda for taking Kenya forward includes ensuring equal access and opportunities to all citizens in their different counties, through positive remedial action, social assistance and the implementation of equalisation interventions,” states the document.
The Raila and Kalonzo government would further improve infrastructure and put in place good land use mechanisms should they capture power. Raila said some progress has been made on construction of roads and that he would carry on with this work.
“I don’t want to contest the legacy of infrastructure, I want to continue with that legacy,” said Raila.
To this end, it will invest at least ten per cent of the GDP in infrastructure development over the next five years and expand road networks to every part of the country. CORD would also expand railway network and develop light railway transport in Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.
Quality education also forms part of the pledges and the team says it would offer universally accessible quality education to all Kenyans at no cost.
It would thus review the employment terms of teachers and lecturers to ensure long service and harmony and also recruit more. CORD also promises to establish computer laboratories and Internet services in all public schools to enable access to e-libraries.
The elusive health care scheme for all Kenyans also captured the attention of CORD and the team said it would establish a national insurance scheme to ensure all Kenyans access quality health care.
To this end CORD would also renovate health facilities. It would also train more doctors and provide quality maternal health care to needy women and the marginalised at subsidised rates.
Capping the ten points is the pledge to ensure a cohesive nation by ending what the coalition calls ‘artificial and factional division of the nation’.
The manifesto points out that CORD would streamline and harmonise institutions charged with ensuring national cohesion and unity, as a way of building a cohesive country. It will also ensure there is equal access to opportunities to all Kenyans.
“We will be committed in defence of our national unity,” said Kalonzo.
The team also pledged to restructure the public service to make it a professional organ that would effectively serve the country in the new dispensation.