Exciting time to be Kenyan: Big 4, ‘Robin Hood’ tax and all the nice things

Residents of Kondele in Kisumu County scramble for sugarcane after a truck which was ferrying the commodity overturned. [Collins Odour, Standard]
Kenya is reaching a time of unprecedented excitement since becoming a fully-fledged multi-party democracy in 1991. Yet this excitement is not a childish, uncontrollable, irrational excitement. That is the sort of excitement we can save for the current Fifa 2018 World Cup madness which seems to have taken over the lives of our husbands and sons (and also my daughters).

The reason why I am excited as a politically interested (relatively) rational thinker, is unfortunately for some readers, unrelated to football. I am excited because it appears we are coming of age as a democracy. I am excited because for the first time in generations I feel that our elected officials are showing real political maturity.

No more politicking

All of a sudden it is not (all) about political games, or what some like to call the Kenyan game of thrones. All of a sudden it is not all about tribes; or this ethnic group ruling over that one. We don’t hear our elected leadership talk about the Kikuyu or Kamba, the Luo or the Luhya. We are finally hearing about the things that matter; and all in the framework of national unity.

The handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila, who both have shown real political maturity, allowed a nation to put tribalism behind us, and the 2017 General Election to bed (finally). Now Mr Kenyatta can focus on the matters he has always wanted to focus on. Not only is his Big 4 plan sensible, but his bullish no nonsense attitude towards corruption, is exactly what our country has been crying out for. Millions, perhaps billions have been lost while our leaders squabbled. Not anymore.

The “Big 4 Action Plan” is moving forward, and even if it requires a “Robin Hood” bank transfer tax, then so be it.  For those transferring large sums of money, they can afford to pay a little extra in order to help revolutionise our nation. Food and nutrition security is rightly up at the very top of the president’s agenda.

The Jubilee administration has already begun to invest in securing water towers, working on river ecosystems and coordinating with the devolved counties to ensure that we avoid drought at all costs. The Kenyan farmer must be protected. We are reaching out to the world to make sure they have the technologies which both increase yields and profits, without harming the consumer.

The commitment to create 500,000 new homes was mocked during the campaign; yet government is also moving this forward. Last week in a meeting held at State House, which included Deputy President William Ruto, members of the National Assembly, the Senate and COTU, the road map to put this campaign promise into practice was unveiled.

Rifts in Jubilee?

Again, Mr Ruto’s presence here demonstrates that for all this noise in the media about rifts and tribal presidential politics, the protagonists are focusing on the task ahead. Financing the project through minor additional taxes on salaried employees won’t be popular, but they are fiscally responsible. Political maturity demands a balanced budget, and houses aren’t built for free.

Then we have the final two parts of the action plan; manufacturing and Universal Health Coverage. The nations and large companies of the world see Kenya as a country they can do business with. Our international prestige has somehow survived our recent election mayhem, and investors are pouring back in.

In addition, government recently presented our fiscal plan, which at Sh3 trillion, is the biggest ever. Layered in there are numerous tax incentives to attract investors to our manufacturing sector and thereby create jobs. This was bold; this is brave. But if the incentives work, our economic blip (caused by the prolonged electioneering) will be a thing of the past. The people of Kenya are holding the president accountable, and his campaign pledges are turning into real hard and fast policies.

Kenyan mothers already benefit from free maternal healthcare. It is something we are all very proud of. Healthcare has been improving for a while. The number of health facilities grew from 9,000 in 2013 to 11,000 in 2017. And our NHIF coverage has ballooned from 3.8 million in 2013 to 7.2 million today. This is no small feat. Truly speaking, it is now time to “complete the journey of transformation”. Universal Health Care will be truly historic, and what’s more, it is wholly achievable.

War on corruption

And beyond the Big 4 plan, let us take a moment to mention President Kenyatta’s war on graft.  It is of course in its embryonic stages. But every battle must have an opening shot. Admittedly, corruption has eaten away at our moral fabric and national well-being for far too long.
So let us come together during this time of political maturity and support the president and his bold moves.

If there is one thing that buttresses political maturity, it is national maturity. And national maturity manifests itself strongest in unity of purpose and unity of mission. That way, together we will build a better Kenya.

Ms Mghongo comments on topical issues

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