Kenya Kwanza has flopped on the four key pillars it was anchored on


President William Ruto and Treasury CS Njuguna Ndungu during the launch of the 4th Medium Term Plan (2023-2027) at State House, Nairobi. [PCS]

To fail is simply to fall short of the lowest level of expectations. Ahead of this, goals and standards have been set. Outputs and performance indicators have been defined and agreed. Equally, tasks and timelines have been defined. 

Those involved with tasks are expected to be equal to them. Even in such a basic thing as a school test, the candidate is understood to be sufficiently prepared. They have been walked through the terrain. They are now on their own, ready to prove themselves.

In the work environment, you are expected to arrive readymade. You are either sufficiently trained and experienced to hit the ground running, or you are fit for further training and instructions, to make you astute for the task. If, in this entire scenario, you will not deliver in the set timelines and budgets, you have failed. 

So, why do people fail? Many factors. Like in an exam, they have not understood the assignment. The candidate who writes a brilliant essay on a question not set must fail. For, that was not the expectation. The fellow in the wrong exam room must also fail. They are doing the wrong exam. 

How they got there, beats imagination. But, we probably should not blame the candidate. Should we not blame the gatekeepers, those who should have checked at the door, to admit only those with the correct exam card? Or is the right candidate just distracted by the wrong focus? They have cast their sights on other things? They have forgotten what brought them here?

Or, maybe, the candidate is in panic. He is overwhelmed by thoughts about the enormous task at hand. He cannot collect himself and cool down to do what should be done.

These, and many more examination-like scenarios are also true for government, and for those called upon to govern. Unlike the examination candidate, however, those in government set their own exam. They prepare their own marking scheme. In a word, they have both the exam and the answers. Yet they still fail spectacularly. 

Could the Kenya Kwanza government be on this beaten path? Ahead of ascending to power, they set for themselves an exam – read performance plan. They said they would secure agriculture and food production. Affordable and subsidized farm inputs would be the entry point. Famine and hunger would belong to the past.

Four other pillars were universal healthcare, affordable housing, buttressing the cooperative and SME sector through the Hustler fund, and finally developing a robust digital economy. Where are they sitting with their exam? 

Agriculture got off to a good start, in the first year. Fertiliser and maize seed subsidies, by both the national and county governments, produced good yields. To date, the cost of maize flour and flour maize is still within tolerable brackets, even if not perfect. But what is this spectre born of fake fertilisers?   

The government ought to be outraged that its critical food security pillar is rocked with scandal. Instead, the Cabinet Secretary waffles with contradictory casual pronouncements. He hems and haws.  He hopes that the thing will wither away on its own energy. But, written in the fertiliser scam are the seeds of mortifying failure. The looming failure in food security pales awfully in the face of the collapsing health sector.

A girlishly playful and childishly mischievous and frivolous Cabinet Secretary appears completely clueless. She fails to recognise the magnitude of the challenges in this sector. Intransigence between health workers and the government is bringing down healthcare. Never mind dozens of other unresolved questions in the sector.  The goings on in the housing sector, on the other hand, are steeped in controversy worse than mind-boggling. From legitimacy of levies, to intended ownership, issuance of contracts and on to suppliers, the secrecy and mystery around reeks with potential scandal. It will probably unfold in coming days. 

For its part, the Hustler Fund is remembered as often as Kenyans remember Siberia and the Amazon forests. Once again, secrecy and mystery rule. And in ICT they talk of great things that nobody has seen, or can verify – not even themselves. That is apart from the clampdown on legacy media, through denial of advertising. 

It is correct to say the Kenya Kwanza government lost its first year. The second year is going the same way. Hopefully they will salvage their third year that begins in August. If they lose it, as well, then their entire term is lost. For the next two years will go to electioneering. But how do you fail an exam that you have set for yourself?