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They promised; delivered some; failed in others

A view of the JKIA-Westlands Expressway which is one of the Legacy projects for President Uhuru Kenyatta. [PSCU, Standard]

Nearly 10 years ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy William Ruto were on the cusp of becoming the most powerful men in the country. This was in spite of indictments on crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court at The Hague.

The two pulled all stops to convince Kenyans that whereas the allegations they faced stemmed out of the disputed presidential results of the 2007 election, they were fit to lead the country. They promised sweeping transformation in seven key sectors: Leadership, security, water and electricity, social justice, empowerment of youth, food security and health.

The life of the Jubilee administration is coming to an end in three days. A look back at the pledges they made and the effort made to realise them presents a mixed bag of fortunes.

The administration went out of its way to invest heavily in infrastructure but corruption ate away some of the gains that were to be had from the massive investment. The Jubilee coalition that comprised of TNA, URP, RPK and Narc, promised to revamp the agricultural sector to make it “produce food in excess of the needs of our country by encouraging mechanisation, irrigation, reviving cooperatives and farmer unions, and subsidy for inputs”. Their signature agriculture behemoth – Galana Kulalu – gobbled up billions but produced too little or nothing at all.

At the moment, there is a push to privatise the project that was to put 1.2 million acres under irrigation for production of maize. However, that more than three million Kenyans are in the throes of acute starvation shows this was just but an election pledge. The same government promised to ensure “the rights of all Kenyans are preserved through good governance, democracy, and respect for the rule of law and social protection and welfare for the disadvantaged”. The fights between the Executive and Judiciary cannot be understated. That extrajudicial killings are still rampant speaks to the failure of this tenet. Notably, however, the welfare of senior citizens has improved tremendously under the social protection programmes.

After the first five-year term ended, the coalition morphed into the Jubilee Party and the pledges were condensed to the Big 4 Agenda - manufacturing, food security, universal health coverage and affordable housing. Among the goals to be achieved was to “raise manufacturing sector contribution to GDP from 8.5 per cent to 15 per cent and also to create 1,000,000 new jobs in the manufacturing sector”, but that only 338,000 jobs were created by 2021, shows the dream festered.

The fractious relationship between the president and his deputy precipitated by the March 2018 handshake with their fierce challenger Raila Odinga preoccupied the administration and the political discourse, to the point of distraction of service delivery. The coming together of the president and Mr Odinga, birthed the Building Bridges Initiative and while some touted it as an event that brought peace and an environment for development, others said it shifted the sights of the Jubilee government from its agenda to constitutional reforms. The Jubilee administration, and to a large extent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s legacy, will take years to be appreciated. However, a quick look at the gains and losses; hits and misses gives a score of average.

Wanyonyi Wambilyanga, Deputy Editor Print