The Jubilee steam engine, powered by tyranny of numbers, shot off the blocks at top speed in March 2013.
But the engine, hobbled down by a phantom and inexperienced Cabinet, corruption allegations and a numbing economic crunch, has run out of steam.
A recent stinging rebuke of the national leadership by Cord leader Raila Odinga who slammed the government for “overspending, over borrowing and over stealing,” came in the midst of mounting national anger about Uhuru’s poor stewardship of the nation.
But Raila’s view has been dismissed by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, who insists that the Jubilee administration is steering the country to safer waters and delivering on its manifesto promises.
While Jubilee’s manifesto promised to “clean up Government by introducing some of the toughest anti-corruption legislation in the world,” and put an end to parliamentary immunity from corruption charges, it is on the subject of graft that the government has received the harshest criticism.
Political analyst Barrack Muluka says not much has been achieved in the last three years: “There is no commitment to fight corruption. They can try another line. The one focus is reversal and negation of all gains. Corruption is on the rise and it is the third time this government is trying to gag the media,” says Muluka, adding that public officers stepping aside for being linked to corruption is just mere formation of words that vapourise as soon as they leave the lips of those who utter them.
While Duale admits that corruption has been one of the key concerns of the Jubilee government, he maintains that ‘stepping aside’ is a requirement by law and must be adhered to. In his view, “corruption has been in Kenya since independence and requires behaviour change for us to fight it.”
When did the rain start beating Jubilee? From the scandal of the ‘hustler’s jet’ to the National Youth Service scam and now the alleged ‘El Niño bar soap’ worth Sh37,500, opposition leaders feel that Jubilee has scored in its own goal in terms of fighting corruption.
“Jubilee has converted Kenya into an official ‘Republic of Corruption.’ Its performance in looting public resources is an excellent record. It is clearly fighting devolution,” says Kakamega Senator, Boni Khalwale, a vocal critic of the government.
Like all political outfits that ride to power in a wave of euphoria only to halt at the first red light, the Jubilee government hardly talks about its manifesto or the Kibaki administration’s Vision 2030, which was tailored to propel Kenya into a mid-income nation.
For instance, school going children were promised laptops and free milk. Three years down the line, the Sh24.6 billion laptop project gave way to cheaper, but classy tablets, which are yet to be delivered. No one talks about the milk, though.
The UhuRuto government also promised to increase the number of schools in disadvantaged areas and restrict class sizes to a maximum of 40 countrywide. But this has remained a dream. Meanwhile, the education sector is in shambles, with demoralized teachers striking over poor pay and those in North Eastern fleeing their schools because of insecurity.
In its manifesto, Jubilee was to establish a national water harvesting policy in every village or estate as part of a five-year investment plan. Three years down the line, counties are working frantically to clear drainage in anticipation of El Niño floods, but nobody has even hinted at harvesting the excess water.
But it is the youth, the bedrock of the ‘digital’ Jubilee government, that must feel let down the most. Uhuru and Ruto promised to provide both the national teams and the domestic leagues with all the support they require while respecting their autonomy. Three years later, Harambee Stars aren’t better financed. Only last week, the national hockey teams were reported to be sleeping on cold floors in a foreign country while on national assignment, meaning it is business as usual.
UhuRuto also promised to build five new national sports stadia in Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Eldoret and Garissa, as well as upgrade existing sporting facilities at the county level to accommodate swimming, tennis, basketball and rugby. But there are no bulldozers flattening rickety stadia to give way to new ones.
Coming on the heels of the Kibaki presidency, which was pillared on infrastructural development and sound economic growth, Jubilee promised to stimulate more growth, create one million new jobs for the youths and reduce public deficit so that the country can spend on service delivery and not paying off debts.
But the government’s appetite for debt has risen to an all-time high of Sh2.5 trillion as at April 2015. In the wake of a battered shilling that hit a three-year low of 105 against the US dollar, financial analysts say that servicing costs will hit the skies, while 40,000 civil servants face the axe.
Muluka, however, sees nothing wrong with the Kenyan government borrowing, but has a word of caution: “All of us need to find an opportunity to borrow and put such funds to good use for economic growth. All governments the world over borrow money. The difference is what they do with the money.”
In its manifesto, Jubilee also promised to reposes illegally occupied land without compensation and “prosecute land grabbers, especially government officials.” The jury is still out on that.