By his deeds, it seems leaving a rich legacy is the least of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s concerns despite this being his final term. The deeds lend credence to the truism that you can judge a man by the company he keeps. Hence, the political rejects (the electorate did not find them worthy of their trust) and sycophants that Uhuru has chosen to champion his cause cast him firmly on the highway to failure, and it will be all the more spectacular because he is allowing himself to be marooned and advised by self-seekers.
Some of Uhuru’s appointees to powerful offices are weighed down by the burden of impropriety. As someone aptly put it, the internet does not forget. Today, quite a number of unsavoury photographs adorn social media. If anybody can bear such shame and stare the public in the face, determined to be called ‘mheshimiwa’, you can be sure nothing would faze them.
Of the appointees, one is said to have some really bad reputation, having on several occasions been linked to political violence and, at some point, was reported to have defrauded a certain party of millions of shillings. Yet another was accused of misusing a powerful position in Parliament, as was widely reported in the media, to influence committee decisions, and many other indiscretions.
Many are those who inflame the public every time they open their mouths to speak. It never occurs to them that by holding public office -serving both Government and Opposition sympathisers- they must tread the middle ground. Of course, it is not that as a public servant one ceases to have feelings or preferences; there is a demand that one keeps their beliefs and feelings to themselves while maintaining some form of facade.
Recent Cabinet appointments highlight disdain for Chapter Six of the Constitution that dwells on leadership and integrity, and the express proviso that neither of the genders should occupy more than two thirds of appointive positions in public service. The provisions on equitable distribution of the national cake do not count, for the bulk of appointments favour just a few.
When someone well past the 50-year mark is appointed to head the Ministry of Youth Affairs, one wonders; is Jubilee propagating the view that youth are the leaders of tomorrow? Is there logic in those who trash the Constitution demanding that others be bound by the provisions of the law?
In 2015, President Uhuru and his deputy William Ruto sensationally claimed they were taking a pay cut to reduce the wage bill. In 2016, there were plans to lay off 60,000 civil servants to reduce an unsustainable wage bill.
While the Salaries and Remuneration Commission has given warning that the wage bill is on an alarming upward trajectory, from Sh627 billion in 2016-2017 to Sh650 billion in 2017-2018, the president would rather compound matters by creating superfluous, extra constitutional positions. If an average of Sh1.2 million (salaries and allowances) was paid to each of the 22 Chief Administrative Secretaries monthly, that translates into Sh26.4 million.
With that amount of money, the Government can employ 1,760 people at a modest pay of Sh15,000 monthly. These are Kenyans who would work hard to help the economy grow, not the lazybones that would be hell-bent on destroying it through wastage and a misplaced sense of entitlement. If I remember correctly, the Government gave an undertaking to start internship programmes for all university graduates at Sh15,000 monthly pay effective January 2018. Has that been actualised?
One wonders; What are Uhuru’s considerations? Making Kenya better or making a select-few feel better? Rewarding sycophants is despicable. It demonstrates that the president is captive to forces serving their own interests. Because he owes his office to their ‘supposed support’, it is either he does their bidding or faces unspecified consequences. Anybody finding themselves in such a situation cannot be in control of their own affairs. No doubt, Uhuru appears to be caught in a whirlwind from which he must pander to other people’s whims and demands to have peace of mind.
As if that burden is not debilitating enough, the Opposition finally swore its own ‘president’. NASA has initiated psychological warfare, sown seeds of discord and created tension in the country to undermine Uhuru’s confidence and authority so that, for instance, he doesn’t have time for the ‘Big Four’. The strategy is really simple; Keep Uhuru busy putting out fires that he won’t have time for anything else.
Throw in calculated civil unrest to malign him and Uhuru’s plate will be quite full. If he survives the five years, he will have little to show for it.
Remember, too, that there is some fire going on inside Jubilee itself; renegade MPs, the question of 2022 support for Ruto and suspicion that some individuals have been using Jubilee as a ladder. The ogre of ethnicity looms large inside Jubilee.
Mr Chagema is a correspondent at The [email protected]