Peter Kenneth was a presidential candidate in the 2013 General Election but seems to have gone out of media limelight for well over two years now. Where has he been, what has he been up to? Our senior writer MWANIKI MUNUHE chats with him over his stand and future political projections.
Here are exerpts:
Where have you been and what have you been up to?
I have been around doing my own things, my own businesses, as you know with the new constitution we kind of adopted the American system where basically after elections we allow those who were elected to do their bit and we would watch and observe. I have several companies in the financial sector or should I say I am involved in a few not just in Kenya but also in the region. So that has kept me a little busy. It is good to see Kenya in the lens of a business person and to see what business people go through and gauge the business environment in our country.
You were a candidate in the 2013 presidential elections and there is what you had wanted to do in this country. Compare that with what the current government has achieved or failed to on a scale of one to ten?
If you recall after elections when I spoke I said that the issues I raised in the campaign were valid and will be long be discussed after I have left the scene. Those issues are still very valid today. We have insecurity, high rate of unemployment, we are yet to achieve quite a lot in terms of infrastructure save for SGR, water remains a critical area and of course education has become very politicized. The government made a lot of promises right from the election time to when they came to office, but a lot of these promises have not yet been validated.
The President as you say, made several promises during the campaign period, he has also made several other pronouncements after he became President. Where do we stand today?
I think the implementation has been very weak. Right statements on important issues have been given by the President out there. But until tangible results are felt by the common person, the notion that nothing has been done will will prevail. The President has issued the right statements, sadly the follow up has been lacking. A lot of people have said I am silent, I don‘t speak on national issues like corruption but I don‘t see the point of discussing what everybody has been talking about. Government has talked about corruption, the opposition has spoken about corruption and the common person is talking about corruption why are we talking about it, why we can‘t we just deal with it? Corruption thrives because it‘s not painfully punished.
Have you had an opportunity to meet the President privately or otherwise since he got into power, and what did you discuss?
We have met several times. He is very much well informed about the state of affairs in the country but a lot needs to be done so that that feeling, the words that he speaks can be justified. You know they say, I want to give you an example, if all Kenyans are shareholders of a company called Kenya, and we had an AGM, we would be telling the management that good intentions have no place in the balance sheet. It is the bottom line that counts. That is what Kenyans are telling the management of the country.
There is talk that the appointment of Mwangi Kiunjuri to the Cabinet has something to do with preparing him for succession politics. What do you make of this?
Well I‘m not the appointing authority and would have no knowledge of appointments that are done by the Executive but I think this talk of succession is really too early. We‘ve heard before that Jubilee would be there till 2032, I think the most important thing right now is national issues and we all know what they are and quite frankly, I think it would be better for any politician to think about Kenya rather than start planning succession many years from today because the person who determines whether we will be alive or not is God.
There has been talk that you may be coming to Nairobi to contest for gubernatorial seat in the next General Election. Please comment.
You know I always give a standard answer. Had I wanted to be governor I would have run for Murang‘a in 2013 or Nairobi for that matter. I believe that this country needs to be sorted out right from the top. That we need a President who can drive the vision of Kenya and that is what I aspired to be unfortunately it didn‘t happen. Therefore it‘s clear that I long chose the country over counties. As it stands now that position has not changed. There is no point developing one part of the country.
If the President offered you a job in government today, would you take it?
If it is something that would help improve the state of affairs of our country, it might be worth considering because at the end of it all most of us who have wanted or have held positions of leadership have wanted the best for our country.
From your 2013 experience, do you still want to go it alone or would you prefer a coalition approach?
I think the important thing is never underestimate a quiet person and we are 19 months away (from next year elections). The tragedy of those planning is to write-off people. There is still time to decide what role one is going to play. But because our practice appears to seek support from regions, it makes a lot of sense to think about it, but it‘s also quite clear that you also have Kenyans who are above tribal and regional boundaries. But you know we live in a world where media and opinion shapers and arm-chair analysts tend to drive the country to particular zones. For me I see coalition vehicles that will bring together a majority of Kenyans rather than disintegrate them into regions and communities.
What do you make of our electoral processes, what would you do if it were within your power to do so?
What is important is to make the law very absolute to know who has funded or who has donated to which party. There is nothing illegal about it. That way we shall make our parties accountable to those donors and to the people.
Your son made a speech that attracted the attention of many young people. Where is he and what is he up to?
My son is in the UK studying. He was just pitching for his father; he was not in politics. He had actually flown from campus and the only thing he had had was a haircut, and he decided to say a few things about his father. I was very touched that he spoke about me in a public forum. It‘s good to know and to relate with our children about what they think about their parents and I was actually very proud that he could stand in front of people with courage and deliver a speech.