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UhuRuto should’ve stuck to the possible

By By KIPKOECH TANUI | May 16th 2014


A long time ago, university students had lofty and impractical dreams. Because they were few, they were sure they would get jobs, so joblessness was not one of their fears. The world waiting outside the lecture theatres was big and could fit all of them, many got jobs even before graduating, the best of them, that is.

Company executives, I am told, pitched camp in lecture rooms trying to convince the youths why their companies were the best employers. Coca Cola, Kenya Breweries, Kenya Airways and British American Tobacco and East African Industries were among the best destinations for young graduates then.

But surreal as life was, there was a crushing impatience by the youths (who are now in their late 50s) to get into this life. This was captured aptly by the legendary Bishop Alexander Kipsang Arap Muge when he counselled the young: “Don’t be like university students who want to graduate today, buy a Peugeot 504 saloon tomorrow, and marry and get a son on the third day!”

Several things happening within the Jubilee administration open floodgates of memories in my mind related to this analogy. In governance, especially within the context of highly ethnicised politics like ours, it is tempting for our leaders to make promises that they know are either unachievable due to finances or scale, or may take a long time – right up to the next generation. 

This situation (and which is why I referred to tribe) is fertile ground for politicians to delude their followers because instead of being critical, most lay more emphasis on the tribal factor. That is why instead of some MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto lobbying for strategies to protect the prices of milk from being crashed by the emerging monopoly buying off every available dairy firm, they are more concerned with the removal of former NYS director Mr Kiplimo Rugut.

Why? Their fury is two fold; Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru replaced him with former President Kibaki’s State House Comptroller Nelson Githinji. Then, as if to lay bare the umbilical cord between Kibaki’s administration and Uhuru’s, Githinji is sworn in before Uhuru at State House. The question to ask is how many chaps just didn’t leave State House or the power-base wherever it is after Kibaki left. If the URP MPs answer this question well and truthfully, they will know a few things about what is happening around Government.

We must also remember that the effective footbridge, one year later, between Kibaki and Uhuru’s administration, remains four powerful chaps:  Mr Francis Kimemia, Mr Mutea Iringo (all of who Ruto’s team want evicted because of something to do with the ICC, but on whom Uhuru’s side is clearly not in agreement), as well as National Intelligence Director Michael Gichangi and then the highest ranking man in the Presidency outside Uhuru and Ruto — Mr Joseph Kinyua. There are a few others like Waiguru (who incidentally commands the respect we accord naked electricity wires) who form part of this footbridge.

Let us go back to the university student and his lofty dreams. The Jubilee administration came to power with good dreams, anchored by such sweeteners as free everything from hospitals to schools, free laptops for all children, cash for youth and women and the old too, as well as promises of phenomenal growth in all sectors, including railways, airports, agricultural plantations, polytechnics and two others that came off the lips of the two powerful gentlemen like honey: double-digit economic growth and jobs-creation by the second!

Now like the modern-day university student, the harsh reality has hit all of us in the face; kumbe sio rahisi (so it is not easy).

There are ten problems that even the Chinese, on whom I shall say something about in conclusion, won’t help much because a debt is a debt, is a debt. Listening to several top brains in government, there are ten problems, some inherited, that are spoiling the Jubilee dream and testing the strength of its backbone.

They are terrorism and general insecurity; the sinking reality the Anglo Leasing billions’ payout is inevitable; the reality that hostility to and the effort to bait and cage the media, is counterproductive; that you can fight Devolution by even reinstating the old order through the discredited Provincial Administration, but it has its own poisonous fangs; that borrowing and borrowing will only take you far; and the runaway public wage bill that has been accentuated by the wastefulness in Jubilee.

The other four are: the loose patches sewn into the Jubilee fabric by its rivalry among majority ethnic-based shareholders; the reality of America’s and Europe’s cash cutbacks manifested by collapsing programmes; the growing certainty that even without Mr Raila Odinga, there are issues that refuse to go even if not raised by him; and the façade that China and its renminbi currency are in terms of addressing immediate problems.

Friends, we all may not have solutions to the situation the Jubilee leadership has found itself in, but we must also remind them that borrowing and borrowing without serious cutbacks in public spending, cutting wastefulness in government, and ending the pretense that China, to whom we have given our soul, will give us Heaven. The bill will be waiting for us to settle even as we repair the wonderful infrastructure they have given us.

The point is really simple; Uhuru and Ruto must now realise they are no longer the university students of old, but the present-day student who has no delusion on how brutish and competitive life after college is. Yes, it is time to cut on dreams, seal the leakages, and generate wealth. It is to leave the high table where chewing and swallowing is the only exercise. Hey, you also realise we Ieft out The Hague… yes, that was deliberate.

The writer is Group Managing Editor (Print) at The Standard.

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Editorial Cartoon 16.05.2014
Editorial Cartoon 16.05.2014
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