The next few months may be the most difficult in the wake of social and economic effects of the coronavirus which are already being felt across sectors. These extraordinary times require special measures. President Uhuru Kenyatta, the Cabinet and Legislature can only do so much, but every Kenyan has a role.
Kenya needs an outstanding focus by the decision-making apparatus at all levels to get through this challenging chapter.
Small traders fear their stocks will run out and airlines and the tourism industry are on their knees already. The lack of goods from China means traders and businesses will have to look elsewhere, and few countries are priced as competitively as China. This will affect the 80 per cent of Kenyan workers who rely on small businesses and will hit us all hard in the pocket.
What should worry us, however, is the fact that at a time that we need to concentrate on the crisis at hand, some leaders won’t relent in their determination to pull political punches.
I don’t know how many ordinary Kenyans need to keep shouting “enough with politics” to those who seemingly see every single action or event as an opportunity or a challenge for them to sit up and take notice. With all of Kenyans’ challenges and the immediate threat from coronavirus, it is unbelievable that some politicians are still placing their petty politicking before the people’s interests.
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Another week, another ridiculous spectacle. This week, some MPs declared: “Tuko tayari kwa uchaguzi, tuko tayari serikali ivunjwe na twende kwa debe (We are ready for polls. We are ready for the government to be dissolved and we go to the ballot).” Nothing can be further from the truth. These leaders want to divert attention from the crisis at hand by bringing in another not so useful debate on early elections.
They do this while the Kenyan economy is being hit even before there have been many infections here. So far, we have seven confirmed coronavirus cases.
This is the time we need a determined populace and a steady hand of President Kenyatta and the government at the wheel to pull us through the turbulent waters ahead.
We need unity between our politicians and not back-stabbing. If the president and his team are left to run the country without political distractions now, we know he will get the job done.
So far so good and State efforts against the scourge are reassuring. Uhuru recently directed for the necessary budgetary review and adjustment towards management and prevention to respond appropriately to the virus and its effects. Still, more needs to be done. And its only possible when the nation and its leaders embrace unity of purpose.
The government, through the National Emergency Response Committee on Coronavirus, is striving to cushion our economy from the disease whose affects are bringing economies down, sending markets crashing and affecting every aspect of life all over the world.
After receiving the initial report of the committee, Uhuru placed the focus on safe-guarding low income and vulnerable populations. Truth is, he needs the full support of the people and their representatives in Parliament.
Those that try and deflect and distract Kenyans’ attention from the pressing issue of the day are doing a great disservice to the people and could cost the economy. We need our government, health services, law enforcement agencies and local authorities working together.
We can already see around the world which countries have dealt with coronavirus effectively and with strong and robust decision-making, and which have not. Those who talk of elections now are displaying the height of irresponsibility and need to be ignored. There is a time and place for politics and that is not during moments of national, if not international, emergencies.
At least, the building bridges initiative is here and Uhuru is betting on it bring unity within the political class.
We have to send a message to all of our politicians that now is not the time to break ranks and use excuses to score petty points, that time will come in two years.
The writer is an ICT consultant