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Leadership: We haven’t the foggiest idea what Kenya will look like

By Mark Bichachi | Published Wed, October 31st 2018 at 00:00, Updated October 30th 2018 at 19:42 GMT +3

When President Uhuru Kenyatta was asked by young Joyce Nyawira what his legacy would be, many across the country sat on the edges of their seats in anticipation. It was the question of the year; a window into the future the president had in store for us. The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when he declared that cohesion and the fight against corruption would be his legacy.

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After replaying his answer several times, I began to ask questions. Why is it that we know what President Donald Trump will do for America more than we know what Uhuru will do for Kenya? Trumpism is simple: build a wall, ban travel from certain countries and slap tariffs on China. We all know what to expect, good or bad, and we can plan accordingly. That is despite the fact that Trump is one of the most unpredictable presidents this world has ever seen, yet still his legacy two years into his presidency is clear.

Fights every

The same can be said of Mrs Theresa May in Britain as she faces Brexit. She is resolute about going through with a divorce from Europe and tries to keep as much of the marriage benefits the UK enjoyed while a member of the EU. She fights every day to deliver what she promised, no matter the obstacles, no matter the potential of total failure ending in a no-deal Brexit.

In Kenya however, two manifestos later and we still haven’t the foggiest idea what Kenya will look like once Uhuru exits power. The Big 4 seems overshadowed by events, as were the stadiums. The housing plan in Big 4 seems to have traction but no one can tell you how the buildings look like or how tall they will be.

At the same time we have no idea about the technology that will be used and whether it will be available to build private houses. NHIF and universal health care seem half implemented. What is free seems limited to a few hundred thousand shillings, and the three counties in which universal healthcare is implemented have neither given us status reports nor clues into how it is working there.

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Other goal

Manufacturing and food security seem to be distant mirages. And with the recent looting of Sh1.7 billion worth of maize, the high drama in cartels vs farmer payments, we can be sure food security will not happen this year.

Even if one was to focus on cohesion, then one would wonder beyond the handshake; how are we unifying Kenyans? The handshake was like an early goal in a football match.

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Now we have played for 20 minutes and there is no other goal, our opponents testing our defence to the core. Soon we will concede a goal. All it takes is for one side of the handshake to betray the other and, presto, we are back to ground zero, teargas Mondays will be back.

Like with all projects we have no idea what the task force is doing, the updates are scarce and far between and the cohesion commission is still on its modus operandi: quiet, toothless and feckless. This is the bane of the Jubilee administration; great ideas, poor implementation and even worse, communication and updating.

One of the countries that have gotten communication down is Rwanda. Ask any Rwandan about vision 2020 and they will tell you the who, the when, the why, the how, the what and the where. They are clear and they have a scorecard. In Kenya however, we never know how far we are on the journey. We are always travelling and the border between Canaan, the river and the wilderness is unclear.

In his quest to fight corruption, Uhuru has done well, with more arrests than any other president. But there are many many loopholes. First is the adage that when the cat’s away the mice will play. In this fight there are three cats; Uhuru, Haji and Kinoti.

If anything happens to these three, Kenya shall possibly go back several steps in the fight against corruption, because all the mice will play. This fight has also not affected passport control where corruption is still the order of the day. Our roads are still riddled with impunity and corruption so much so that we now have to bring Michuki rules back as though they had taken a holiday.

A fight against corruption without dealing with the behaviour of citizens is simply trying to stay a tsunami with a wood plank. It is only a matter of time before the water overwhelms us. Not forgetting that the dam must hold against the flood that is 2022 and the current crop of successors who have no plan at all for cohesion nor for the fight against corruption.

I believe President Uhuru has the right intentions; on the Big 4, on cohesion and on the fight against corruption, but if he won’t implement and communicate better, he will not have a positive legacy.

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Instead, he will leave us with a sour taste of regret and bitterness in the sunset of his presidency. If he, however, changes tack and communicates his plans better, and ensures their implementation, then he can comfortably rest assured that whenever we mention Nelson Mandela, we will mention him too, with great pride and vim.

Mr Bichachi is a communication [email protected]


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