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PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Aspirants should talk about development financing

The aspects accounts for a huge pie of the country's public debt

In Summary
  • They should be pressed hard to explain their positions on productive opportunities, revenue cycles and economic justice to their logical conclusion.
  • The question of economic productivity should look to unlock agricultural prospects in Kenya
Motorists on the Nairobi Expressway on May 12.
TWO WEEKS INTO TEST RUN: Motorists on the Nairobi Expressway on May 12.
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

Some time in the mid-2000s a local TV station used to broadcast a show called the West Wing.

Being a student of politics, I’d make a point of watching it every Sunday late in the night at my sister’s house to hype myself up for the grueling week ahead.

However, over the past five years a clip whose episode -for whatever reason I cannot remember- never made it to air has become increasingly popular among Kenyans on social media, and many other people interested in economic justice across the African continent.

In Episode 7 of Season 7 titled “The Debate”, presidential candidates Democratic Congressman Matt Santos played by Jimmy Smits and Senior Republican Senator Arnold Vinick played by Alan Alda are up against each other for a debate as the contest during a US election.

Penned by Lawrence O’Donnell Jr., and directed by Alex Graves, the episode is a screenwriting, play, and film-directing masterpiece for which I can only liken to Fred Mbogo’s, How to Buy a Plot in Kitengela.

This is especially the case considering the current circumstances Kenya and other African countries find themselves in the Covid-19 context.

Alda’s performance neatly summarises the unending tragedies linked to medicine costs, service delivery inefficiency, infrastructure deficits, government corruption, debt relief, tax regimes, low capital and poor wages in three minutes.

Viewing this again, got me thinking about our very own verbal battle royale in July 2022.

This is in relation to the announcement of a Presidential Debate Series following setup of a media houses secretariat in collaboration with the Kenya Editors Guild (KEG) and (Media Council of Kenya) among other players.

Citizens will have a chance to scrutinise all the presidential candidates on one stage and compare which platform will suit them in terms of future expectations and aspirations. They will get to unpack so called local value chain models, resolutions for unity, or alternative cash crop economics etcetera.

Nonetheless, the debating structure should center on how the candidates seek to finance development in Kenya to ensure that the country experiences the transformation needed to achieve safety, and stability in a self-sufficient manner.

Aspirants should therefore be made to speak to the specifics of their various frameworks so that it is clear as to how they propose to ensure finances flow appropriately, through adequate policies that respond to economic, social, and environmental priorities.

They should be pressed hard to explain their positions on productive opportunities, revenue cycles and economic justice to their logical conclusion.

First, the question of economic productivity should look to unlock agricultural prospects in Kenya. We must move away from the poppycock notion that we must make farming cool to reinvigorate the sector.

Hunger is not merciful; therefore, food security is serious business for which any candidate must develop plans that take this responsibility seriously.

Secondly, the next prospective president must be clear on the way he or she plans to manage the revenue cycle of tax collection, allocation, and expenditure plus how they would implement sanctions in the event of malfeasance.

It is at this point that management principles in public finance processes will be explored in line with their manifesto priorities so that individuals, and communities can seek out benefits for themselves at the national or county level.

Lastly, the candidates or their running mates should showcase questions of fairness as a best practice and the new standards associated with it.

Kenyans must be made aware of ownership of companies engaged in government business, procurement processes in the commissioning of projects, access to data used in decision making, responsive representation, better services, freedom of information, and greater justice in their affairs to have a resilient administration with improved governance.

The author is regional coordinator of the East African Tax and Governance Network (EATGN).