Recovery of loot stashed abroad, corruption and the role of the church in politics yesterday dominated the first tier of the presidential debate turned-interview.
Agano party presidential candidate Waihiga Mwaure yesterday assured Kenyans that his first order of business, should he win the August 9 General Election, would be to recover approximately Sh20 trillion allegedly stashed in foreign countries and use the funds for development locally.
Mwaure, who was the sole participant in the first tier of the debate, described the forthcoming elections as the biggest break in 22 years. “I am the change that Kenya needs. This is my Barrack Obama Moment. This is my Nelson Mandela moment.”
He was put to task to explain the vision his party had for the nation after Roots Party presidential candidate Prof George Wajackoyah snubbed the debate.
Prof Wajackoyah had earlier protested what he had termed discrimination of candidates by having them debate in two tiers.
He said he would not participate in the debate should he not be placed on the same podium with Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya presidential candidate Raila Odinga.
But minutes before the debate commenced, Prof Wajackoyah drove into the Catholic University of East Africa in Karen, Nairobi, the venue of the presidential debate, where he held consultations with his lawyer. Shortly after he was informed that all four candidates would not be debating at the same time, he left.
When Mwaure took the stage, he insisted he was not afraid to sever diplomatic ties with countries that were holding onto Kenyan funds, should they not return the same.
“…I am saying that regardless which country is holding onto stolen Kenyan money, my government will go for them. Kenyan money is being used to develop other countries while we languish in poverty and high cost of living. It is immoral and we will not allow it,” he said.
“If a country is holding onto our money, why can’t we cut diplomatic ties? Everything is on the table. A lot of countries have, however, been willing to return the money. It is just that political goodwill from our leaders has been lacking,” he said.
Mwaure’s Agano party had claimed it had already written to the United Nations to help it start the funds recovery process,m especially from European countries. But as of yesterday, he said, they had not received any feedback.
The Agano Party presidential candidate was convinced that Kenya’s biggest threat to the economy was corruption. He said in the last 10 years alone, there were 22 financial scandals under the Jubilee administration, which had in effect led to an increase in the cost of living.
To cure this, he said, he will introduce a 50 per cent reduction in Pay as You Earn (PAYE) to cushion Kenyans against the high cost of living and rid the country of punitive tax measures, as well as create employment opportunities for the youth. Mwaure further vowed to bring back cottage industries.
He pledged to issue a moratorium to anybody holding public money in his first 100 days in office.
Mwaure promised to address unemployment by increasing the allocation of funds to devolved units up to 40 per cent in order to ensure that at least Sh50 million reached the village council.
“Unfortunately, we devolved money and corruption, but we did not devolve the thinking. But once we do that it will open up opportunities. My administration will give the youth Sh500 billion to encourage startups,” he said.
Mwaure, who doubles up as a lawyer and a man of the cloth, said that should he ascend to power, he would ensure the church gets better defined parameters on what can and cannot be said by politicians within its confines.
He took a swipe at his competitors, accusing them of recycling election promises that they had failed to implement.
“The promises my competitors are giving are the same we had in previous elections. They have been there before, one is the DP who could have done the things he says he wants to do, a former Prime Minister who did not implement his promises, and the other has been in the police force and intelligence and is still there,” he said.
The Agano party flag bearer also delved into matters education, climate change, mental health and the threat posed by the monkey pox.