As the presidential race enters the homestretch in the coming weeks, leading hopefuls for the top seat have now engaged their gears to making promises of what they will do when elected.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga of the Cord Alliance and his deputy Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Coalition have prepared elaborate policy statement in the form of manifestos on what they plan to do.
Notwithstanding the promises being made, the two have occupied top positions in government for the last five years with Uhuru also being in charge of Treasury.
While they make new promises, it is not clear whether Kenyans have been paying keen interest in the past performance of the two, who are currently perceived as the front-runners.
Raila became Prime Minister after the controversial 2007 presidential election which he accused Kibaki of having rigged him out of.
As PM, Raila was placed in charge of the coordination and supervision of government ministries. He would later cry foul saying that he did not have the powers to discipline ministers especially those on Kibaki’s side of the coalition.
Raila’s achievements in the last five years can be mirrored on those of the grand coalition government including the enactment of a new Constitution with an elaborate Bill of Rights given his history as a champion for human rights.
There is also infrastructure development which has included the modernisation of the Nairobi railway transport like the recently unveiled Syokimau station and improvement of the road network such as the Thika Superhighway.
The CORD alliance presidential hopeful has however insisted that since he was part of a coalition government, his party ODM could not achieve all that it had promised Kenyans ahead of the 2007 elections.
Regardless, the PM’s office under Raila had its own share of successes and controversy over the last five years.During the initial stages of the grand coalition’s life, Raila spearheaded the search for alternative and renewable energy.
In 2009, Raila formed a task force charged with ensuring that the government expands the national generation of green energy by boosting the country’s power generation by a capacity of 2000 Mega Watts by 2012.
Through this initiative, the government has identified and started setting up wind power generation projects in Turkana and Ngong.
Unlike any other leader in the country’s history, Raila has during his time as PM spearheaded progressive foreign relations that are bringing investment to Kenya in many fields, most recently in the vital area of power-generation.
The PM has been involved in many negotiations with foreign governments on various development projects and investments aimed at creation of jobs.
Raila has also been spearheading cooperation between government and the private sector by holding regular round-table discussions.
The PM launched a sanitary towels initiative in August 2011. The framework for carbon trading was developed by the Climate Change Unit in Raila’s office.
Raila has however attracted controversy in some of the projects that he has spearheaded. One of the most controversial projects was the one aimed at reclaiming the Mau forest which came with political consequences with some of his supporters in Rift Valley crying foul.
In 2009, Raila’s office was at the centre of a scandal that hit the agriculture sector over sale of maize from the country’s reserves. Though the PM has always insisted that his office was not involved, investigation reports and leaked US cables linked senior members of his office and some of his relatives to what came to be known as the “maize scandal”.
Another controversial project initiated by Raila was the Kazi Kwa Vijana which was a multi-billion youth empowerment programme. The World Bank cancelled its grant for the project over alleged graft in the scheme which was to benefit about 190,000 youths.
World Bank Audit Report titled: “Kenya Portfolio: Financial Management Supervision June 2011” claimed that some Sh10,723,663 of KKV project was paid out to or by OPM staff as unauthorized or misappropriated spending.
Recently the PM was under fire in parliament over a report on interference of air control signals by some of the country’s FM stations through their radio waves.
The Communications Commission of Kenya named Royal Media Services owned by businessman SK Macharia for illegally interfering with avionic communications frequencies.
A section of MPs accused Raila and Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who is his running-mate of shielding the company from prosecution for political interests. Macharia is part of the CORD summit and has publicly declared support for Raila’s presidency.
The Jubilee Coalition presidential hopeful joined Kibaki’s government after the 2007 elections when he was appointed as Trade Minister. His stint at the trade ministry was uneventful as this is one of the less prominent ministries despite its importance.
After the signing of the National Accord in February 2008, Uhuru was appointed as one of the two Deputy Prime Ministers. Uhuru was moved from Trade and appointed Minister for Finance in January 2009, while remaining Deputy Prime Minister.
During his time at Treasury, Uhuru spearheaded a number of reform measures that have seen a change in how the ministry and government by extension transacts it business.
During the 2009/2010 budget, Uhuru set aside Sh22 billion going towards the construction of schools, horticultural markets, jua kali sheds and public health centres in all constituencies under the Economic Stimulus Programme.
Uhuru has made this one of his campaign items insisting that even before the country adopted devolved government, through his leadership, Treasury had already kicked off devolution of public funds.
When he took over at the Treasury, Uhuru initiated that re-engineering of the Integrated Financial Management Information System (IFMIS to curb fraud and other malpractices that stem from inefficiency.
Though the system, the government sought to seal all loopholes in the way public finances are used and in particular streamline procurement procedures.
In 2011, Uhuru launched an initiative dubbed as the Funds for the Inclusion of Informal Sector to allow Micro and Small Entrepreneurs (MSE) to access credit facilities, expand their businesses and increase their savings.
So far, the initiative has three banks - the Cooperative Bank of Kenya, Equity Bank and K-Rep bank - as partners. In his 2011/2012 budget, Uhuru sought to ensure Financial Inclusion of an estimated 8.3 million Kenyans working in the informal sector, through the fund.
Uhuru also initiated the investor compensation fund aimed to compensate investors who had lost money to defunct stock brokers. He also directed that interest on contributions made to the investor compensation fund be exempt from tax.
One of Uhuru’s highlights at Treasury was in 2009 when he directed that government officials to return in their Mercedes-Benz cars for Volkswagen Passats. Uhuru’s argument was would reduce vehicle costs by about two-thirds cost of running and maintenance.
In 2011, Uhuru moved to involve the public in the budget making process when it became a requirement in the Constitution. Citing Article 10 of the Constitution, which recognizes inclusiveness in governance, Uhuru said he was pursuing a more inclusive means of formulating the budget.
Uhuru also released the budget estimates to the public through the Treasury website, a week before the reading of the Budget and immediately the budget was read, his Budget Speech and Citizen's Guide to the Budget, were released through his various platform.
On January 23, 2012, Uhuru was among four Kenyans whose charges were confirmed by the ICC for an alleged role in the 2008 post-election violence. They are to stand trial for crimes against humanity from April this year at The Hague-based court.
Three days after the charges was confirmed, Uhuru quit as Finance Minister but retained his position as DPM.
But his stint at Treasury was not without controversy with the most famous being the Sh9.2 billion computer error in the 2009 supplementary budget that nearly had him ousted through a censure motion.
The government required an additional Sh38 billion, but compromised on a figure of Sh22 billion but after voting on the bill, Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara brought up discrepancy question as to what exactly had been approved by the house.
Uhuru initially defended the budget that had been passed but later admitted that there were computer or typographical errors in budget bill. He was later cleared of any wrongdoing by the Joint Finance and Budgetary Committee on the issue.
The greatest dent in Uhuru’s candidature and political career is his alleged role in the 2007-2008 post-election violence that places him as one of those to be tried by the ICC.
Uhuru has been accused of, together with former Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura of organising the Mungiki, in the post-election violence. Uhuru maintains his innocence and wants his name cleared.
His opponents have been using this issue to campaign against him and have also termed him as a hot-tempered person after once he banged tables in full glare of the press.
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