Uhuru to meet Central leaders to address region’s economic problems

President Uhuru Kenyatta arrives at Sagana State Lodge in Nyeri. [Kibata Kihu, Standard]
Friday, November 15 is a day that spoke volumes about the dire political situation in Mt Kenya region. What was largely expected to be an explosive face-off between President Uhuru Kenyatta’s lieutenants (Kieleweke), and Deputy President William Ruto’s political divide (Tangatanga), did not go according to the script. For Ruto’s supporters in Mt Kenya region, Uhuru did not address the real issues hurting the people.

It seems the President was fearful that this would have opened a Pandora’s Box, and possibly draw clear political battle lines between the two political antagonists. It is a fight that has simply been postponed; the day of reckoning is surely coming.

Leaders from Mt Kenya are clear in their minds about what they want. Their people have expressed their grievances, which are centred on agriculture and business, the mainstay of the region’s economy.

The chairman of the Central Region Economic Bloc, Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, had prepared a purely economic agenda that the leaders wanted the President and the National Government to address. These included immediate intervention in the milk pricing crisis, including policy interventions on milk importation and marketing.

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 The leaders also wanted to discuss implementation of the coffee sector report released by the Coffee Taskforce, extending into the tea sector. Further, the leaders sought protection, and export promotion of locally produced products like rice, miraa (khat), pyrethrum, potatoes, and macadamia.

They also thought they would look at ways of attracting international investors to help spur value addition and job creation in the region, something which can be achieved through a regional development authority. The Governors also called for the speedy expedition of national government projects in the respective counties, which have stalled altogether, or inordinately delayed.

 Unfortunately, these proposals were given scant attention, as the President’s agenda veered off anything that would portray his Government in bad light. Let us take stock of the 10-point declarations that were made at the meeting. First, the MPs resolved that President Kenyatta remains the spokesperson of Mt Kenya region, both now and in the future. Secondly, that people should stop speculating on the contents of the BBI report.

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Thirdly, that the MPs will be given an opportunity to review and debate the BBI report before its adoption. The meeting also resolved that the BBI should address the issue of one-man-one-vote, equal representation, inclusivity, promotion of national unity, and peaceful coexistence. That the President will engage Central Kenya leaders again to address the economic problems facing the region and will move from county to county to assess what is happening, starting with Meru.

That democracy should not be based on fear, but on values that promote good governance, good leadership, and national unity. It was also decided that all elected leaders should concentrate on solving the problems of the people, and that corrupt leader should not be in positions leadership. It was also noted that the President was elected alongside governors, senators, MPs, and MCAs. Therefore, all must play their role and stop the blame game for challenges and failures.

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The leaders stated that each one of them must do their job with the utmost dedication. In addition, the meeting noted that the handshake has brought peace and tranquility in the country and, therefore, should be supported. Further, the leaders noted that the unity of the people of Kibra, despite division among leaders during the recent by-election in the Constituency, is a fruit of the handshake. Lastly, that only God knows who will be elected the president in 2022, and leaders should stop early campaigns and dividing the people.

The above declarations were a total anti-climax to what the region’s leaders had presented as the pertinent and urgent issues that needed to be tabled and discussed. It shows that the national leadership has lost touch with what is happening on the ground. “Clearly, the President and his advisors on one hand, and the people on the ground on the other, are reading from totally different scripts,” says Mary Wambui from Muranga.

She believes that the President seems concerned mainly with protecting his personal interests after he leaves the presidency, a fact she believes to be true after press reports intimated that Uhuru said he does not mind taking up the position of prime minister in the next government. This was a complete turnaround after he said a couple of months ago that he wants to retire after 2022.

So, who is fooling who? Why the doublespeak? Could he be testing the waters? Is this one of the main reasons why the BBI report is yet to be released? Indeed, as the Kikuyu nation is now categorically stating, “jeshi ti ngenu”.

This means the army is unhappy. Political analysts in the region observe that if things are as rosy as the communique would have us believe, why were the so-called Tangatanga MPs apparently sidelined from addressing the meeting? Those who addressed the meeting were drawn from the Kieleweke-aligned wing of the Jubilee Party.

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Says Mathira resident Patrick Mwangi, “The Sagana State Lodge meeting was a shame and a show of desperation. It was a mockery to the leaders, and their millions of followers who were expecting answers to real issues.” He states that Uhuru did not address the plight of farmers, the business community and the increasing number of unemployed youth.

Neither, he adds, did the President address grand corruption in his Government, and the disquiet on the expensive controversial projects whose value to the country seems non-existent. “It is the lull before the storm,” states Mwangi, adding that reports indicating a rapprochement at the meeting were deceptive, and aimed at hoodwinking the nation from the ongoing political and economic crises. Mwangi states that it was a shame for the President to call for unity in the poverty-stricken region, asking whether he was laughing at the masses!

“Residents of Mt Kenya region are very angry as a result of official and shameless negligence by the government which, for some reason, seems designed to cripple their livelihoods, and make them subservient to the powers that be,” notes Wambui. She says that she is still waiting for the day the President will call a meeting of Mt Kenya leaders and address the problems facing coffee, tea and dairy farmers, business people, youth, alcoholism, and the blatant mismanagement of public resources.

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Mt Kenya regionKielewekeWilliam RutoTangatangaUhuru Kenyatta